Minneapolis “man with umbrella” embodies distrust of police

US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — The controversy surrounding an alleged “police-thief” in Minneapolis illustrates the incandescent atmosphere between the police and the demonstrators.

Who is “the man with the umbrella”? Since Thursday, May 28, a video of a masked rioter smashing in the windows of Minneapolis, an umbrella in his hand, has fueled an intense controversy on social networks, many Internet users accusing him of being a member of the forces of the ‘order. The police deny any involvement.

The most populous city in Minnesota, in the north of the United States, Minneapolis has been the scene of serious confrontations with the police for three days, following the death Monday evening of George Floyd, African-American of 46 years, during an arrest policewoman. A police station was notably burnt down during the night of Thursday to Friday.

The face covered with a gas mask, a hammer in one hand, a dark umbrella in the other, we thus see in this video “the man with the umbrella” methodically destroying with a hammer the windows of an AutoZone store , a retailer of auto parts and accessories, while demonstrators around him shelter from tear gas canister fire, some responding with projectiles.

Housed by the demonstrators, the man then walks away, filmed by several people, some asking him if he is ” a cop “. His identity is not established, but the local newspaper Bring Me The News points out that the destruction of the store windows was followed by ” other acts of criminal destruction at the AutoZone, then by its fire, as well as that of several other buildings in the area”.

Many people on social media quickly relayed messages that this individual was in fact a police officer. Others go so far as to claim to have identified it. According to a tweet posted on the night of Thursday to Friday and shared tens of thousands of times, “the man with the umbrella” is a certain Jacob Pederson, police officer from the city of Saint-Paul, capital of the State of Minnesota, which borders Minneapolis, with which it forms a conurbation.

Messenger chat screenshots between two people identified as acquaintances of Jacob Pederson were also posted on Twitter. ” I am 90% convinced that it is him: his voice, his approach, everything, ” wrote one of the participants in this discussion, described as a former companion of the police officer. The messages have been shared more than 10,000 times. Among the responses, many Internet users accused the police of having started the violence to discredit the demonstrators and justify a violent reaction from the police.

St. Paul’s police reacted a few hours later through the same channel: ” We have learned that a message on social networks mistakenly identifies one of our police officers as the man filmed breaking windows in Minneapolis . We have seen it. We looked at it. And it’s wrong. This person in the video is not one of our police officers. We do not know who he is, but we hope he will be identified and held accountable for his actions. It is sad that people post and share false information, adding to the confusion at this difficult time for our community.”

The figure of “the man with the umbrella” is not trivial, and refers in the American imagination to one of the most controversial elements of the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy in 1963. On the images filmed this November 22, saw a man open, close and wave a large black umbrella. Identified fifteen years later as Louie Steven Witt, this man had claimed to have waved this umbrella to denounce the attitude of JFK’s father, who had supported appeasement with Nazi Germany in the years before the Second World War. The symbolism of the umbrella was then associated with Neville Chamberlain, British Prime Minister from 1937 to 1940 and signatory of the Munich agreements. But at the time of the assassination, many investigators had seen in this umbrella a signal addressed to the shooter,JFK .

“It is obvious that the attention captured by the man with the Minneapolis umbrella illustrates the distrust of the police, and this for obvious reasons, in view of what has happened in the Twin Cities [Minneapolis and Saint Paul ] in recent years with respect to police violence, “said Aric Toler, an analyst and trainer in open source intelligence for the Bellingcat website, who investigated the case.

In fact, the dismissal Tuesday of four police officers implicated in the death of George Floyd did not reassure the demonstrators. Among these officers who were laid off was Derek Chauvin, who kept his knee on George Floyd’s neck for long minutes. ” I can’t breathe anymore ,” we hear George Floyd say on a recording of the scene, which has gone viral.

“This man behaves strangely and has a very peculiar outfit, which makes him an easy and logical suspect of police provocation, but he could just as much be a bizarre guy in heavy equipment who wanted to vent himself in breaking something, ”continues Aric Toler.“ Unless high-resolution photos emerge, or this so-called ex from the Messenger conversation becomes known, this story will remain one of many.”

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