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Is this the “Umbrella Man”?

When the George Floyd protests began in Minneapolis, a now-famous video showed a man wearing a gas mask with an umbrella smashing the windows of an Auto Zone store. A black protester is seen in the video trying to stop him. It’s clear in video this vandal is a white man, but his identity otherwise was unknown. He quickly acquired the sobriquet “Umbrella Man.”

No one has been arrested or charged in that incident, but police have a suspect.

Numerous media outlets have reported that person is Mitchell Wesley Carlson, 32, a Minneapolis resident described as a “Hell’s Angels wannaba” and member of Aryan Cowboys, which the ADL describes as “a small white supremacist prison/street gang based primarily in Minnesota and Kentucky.” Carlson has a criminal record that includes convictions for brawling, assault, and making terroristic threats. Read about him here, here, here, and here.

The person who tipped police that Carlson might be the “Umbrella Man” said he “wanted to sow discord and racial unrest.” A police search warrant application said the demonstration was relatively peaceful until “Umbrella Man” instigated looting and arson.

Since the killing of George Floyd, there have been thousands of protests against racial injustice, which have been overwhelmingly peaceful. When violence has occurred, Trump and rightwing propagandists have tried to blame it on the Black Lives Matter movement, but the reality is the protests have attracted other people with their own agendas, including looters, agitators, troublemakers, and vigilantes.

The “Umbrella Man” was not a vigilante protecting property, but an agitator destroying property. He is a criminal. According to the search warrant application (read it here), he

“was video‐taped/recorded walking along the front of the Auto Zone … breaking out all of the stores front windows. It was also found later that this same ‘Umbrella Man’ had spray painted the words ‘free shit for everyone zone’ on double red doors on the front of the Auto Zone store. … This was done prior to breaking out the windows. … In a short time after the front windows are broken out in the Auto Zone, looting started. Within a short time after the looting started, the Auto Zone was set on fire. This was the first fire that set off a string of fires and looting throughout the precinct and the rest of the city. Until the actions of the person your affiant has been calling ‘Umbrella man,’ the protests had been relatively peaceful. … Your affiant believes that this individual’s sole aim was to incite violence.”

If Carlson is the “Umbrella Man,” he certainly is not a BLM protester! And that’s the point. The “Umbrella Man” is the most infamous of the protest rioters, and you can’t blame him on BLM. He’s against BLM and its goals. It’s indisputable that some protesters rioted, and many looters were black, although it’s likely the looters weren’t protesters but opportunists taking advantage of the chaos. In any case, the protests have drawn people from across the political spectrum, with varying motives, and it’s dishonest to blame everything that happens on the BLM movement or use their actions as an excuse to resist police reform.

Photo: Trump, Barr, and rightwing propagandists want you to believe this guy is a BLM protester.

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