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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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