Downstate man who said rioting in Chicago and Minneapolis was the “best thing I ever did in my life” heads to federal prison for 105 months

A downstate man who live-streamed hours of footage as he threw explosives, set fires, and encouraged others to riot in Chicago and Minneapolis in the days after George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer last year has been sentenced to nearly nine years in federal prison.

Matthew Rupert, who pleaded guilty to one count of arson in a Minnesota federal court this spring, was sentenced Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Nancy Brasel. The charge stemmed 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.

Matthew Rupert in a 2018 Galesburg Police Department mugshot (inset) and a screengrab showing part of his now-deleted Facebook Live library. | Galesburg PD; Facebook

“The video also depicts Rupert asking for lighter fluid before entering a boarded-up Sprint store located on Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis. Rupert canvassed the store and eventually entered a backroom while telling others that he had located a store safe. Rupert and others then knocked several boxes into a pile on the ground,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Minneapolis said in a statement Tuesday. “Rupert doused the pile of boxes with lighter fluid and then directed another individual—at the time a juvenile—to light the pile on fire. Rupert fled the building and stated, ‘I lit it on fire!’ The store sustained significant damage as a result of the fire.”

Facebook deleted Rupert’s video library shortly after the fire — but not before your friends at CWBChicago saved it for you. Here’s footage of him committing the federal crime that would eventually send him to prison for 105 months:

The prosecutor’s office said Rupert’s hours of Facebook video footage also “depicted handing out artillery-shell fireworks, encouraging violence against law enforcement officers, actively damaging property, breaking into buildings, and looting businesses.”

“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, 2020. Police reported finding homemade bombs in the car they were in.

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