Man who live-streamed his arson, rioting, and bomb-throwing activities pleads guilty in federal court

A downstate man who streamed dozens of Facebook Live sessions as he allegedly incited riots and set fires in Chicago and Minneapolis following the killing of George Floyd last year pleaded guilty to one count of arson in a Minnesota federal court Wednesday.

Matthew Rupert was ordered held in custody until sentencing by U.S. District Judge Nancy Brasel during a video hearing in St. Paul. Prosecutors dropped charges of civil disorder and rioting in exchange for his plea.

The arson charge stems from the burning of a Sprint store in Minneapolis on May 29, 2020. Rupert live-streamed his actions as he and some friends entered a looted cellular store and started a fire.

Now, Facebook deleted Rupert’s video library shortly after the fire — but not before we grabbed it for you:

“Should we torch it? Should we torch it?” Rupert asked a friend who joined him inside the store, which had already been stripped bare by rioters.

“We lit it on fire,” he later announces while walking away from the building. “It’s on fire. It’s on fire. I lit it on fire.”

“Best thing I ever did in my life,” Rupert says of the Minneapolis riots in another video before taking an incoming call: “What’s up mom? We’re out here wreckin’ ‘em. I’m throwing my fireworks back.”

Rupert and his crew then made their way to Chicago, where he continued to bless Facebook Live — and prosecutors — with hours of footage.

But his luck ran out when Chicago cops arrested him and his 29-year-old brother for violating a citywide curfew in the Loop around 1:45 a.m. on May 31. Police reported finding homemade bombs in the car they were in.

In fact. video Rupert posted in Minneapolis showed him recruiting a man to throw one of his bombs at Minnesota police.

“I’ve got some bombs,” Rupert tells the man. “Bomb ‘em back. Light it and throw it.”

“He’s throwing my bombs,” Rupert brags incriminatingly. “They gonna bomb the police right now with ‘em.”

“We came to riot, boy, and we got it! Yes!”

Moments later, one of Rupert’s companions expresses concern about his decision to live-stream their activities.

But Rupert brushes off those concerns: “We ain’t doing nothin’ wrong.”

In one chuckle-inducing moment, Rupert picked up a burning police tear gas canister with his bare hand, apparently unaware that the devices become extremely hot as they burn.

“Damn that tear gas melted me,” he later says after repeatedly stopping to soothe the burns in pools of stagnant water. “I’m cool. It’s worth it.”

Rupert works up his confidence, heads back toward the nearby police skirmish, and is almost immediately felled by an anti-riot projectile that slams into his ankle.

“Right in my ankle! That b*tch ain’t no rubber, bro. That’s plastic,” he observes. “If they hit somebody in the eye, they’re gonna get sued for that.”

After limping off the ankle injury, Rupert soaks his burnt hand in another puddle and suddenly begins running toward the police again.

“I’m ready to get hit again! F*ck it! I’m going in!”

His bold charge toward battle lasts exactly 10 seconds.

“F*ck these btches! F*ck u… Oh. F*ck. That’s tear gas.”

Rupert immediately reverses course, coughing, and wheezing. Eyes watering, breath heavy, Rupert drools long streams of saliva. “I been tear-gassed.”

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com