The rioters were mostly white, some #woke, attacking minority neighborhoods in the name of ‘justice’

In June, I wrote:

You, too, may have encountered people who believe both A) that the riots were a justified expression of anger against racist policing and B) the work of white supremacists.

The trials of those arrested and charged will hopefully shed more light on the motives of those who have ravaged our cities and pushed George Floyd’s name off the top of the news. 

We are now getting some of that information. Frederick Melo wrote for the Pioneer Press recently:

Before facing federal arson charges, the only other time McKenzy Ann DeGidio Dunn could recall appearing before a judge was three years ago, when she was legally adopted by a rural Pope County, Minn., family at the age of 16. Her biological mother had died of brain cancer when she was 13.

Then came the death of George Floyd, and what she saw as her chance as a white woman to make a statement about police brutality and stand in solidarity with Black Americans and people of color in general — her Black cousins, her Native American foster siblings, her friends from school.

On store security video, according to federal charges, she’s seen holding a bottle of flammable hand sanitizer while another suspect lights a fire within a St. Paul strip mall.

“Honestly, I was out with a few people I had just met and it was a mistake,” said Dunn, 19, of Rosemount, who has been charged with conspiracy to commit arson last May at the Great Health Nutrition shop in St. Paul’s Midway.

Melo’s report contains several such stories:

Until the May riots, Dunn had never been arrested. Matthew Lee Rupert, on the other hand, had reportedly been arrested 44 times in his hometown of Galesburg, Ill.

“I’m going to Minneapolis tomorrow,” said Rupert, 28, in a Facebook post, hours before allegedly lighting a Minneapolis Sprint store on fire, looting a Home Depot and encouraging others to throw incendiaries at police during the riots. “Who coming. Only goons. I’m renting hotel rooms.”

After Floyd’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, Rupert — a white man who has been in trouble with the law since being picked up as a truant at age 14 — decorated his hometown of Galesburg with signs that said “F— the Police” and “Police Kill,” according to his brother, who was quoted in the Chicago Sun Times.

Beyond his hatred of police, Rupert wasn’t particularly political.

“He doesn’t have any sort of ideology,” said Rupert’s attorney, Jordan Kushner, after his arraignment in federal court in downtown St. Paul in late September. “He came up here because he was upset about the murder of George Floyd. He live-streamed himself (online). … It was a human reaction.”

And on and on it goes. It a depressing but worthwhile read.

One of the things that is striking about these people is how many of them are white. Another thing that is striking is how many of these white folks are not white supremacists. In Ms. Dunn’s case the motivation appears to be just dimwit opportunism. In Rupert’s case, there may be an anti-police motivation, though a guy who has “been in trouble with the law since being picked up as a truant at age 14” probably didn’t need the motivation of George Floyd’s death to act on that.

One thing we do know is that the victims of these rioters, who were mostly white, were mostly from ethnic minorities. They were people like Hussein Aloshani, Luis Tamay, Korboi Balla, Ehtiatkar, Kester Wubben, Kelly Drummer, Ricardo Hernandez, and Jin Lim. Melo writes:

In St. Paul, the irony of self-proclaimed advocates — many of them white — arriving from outside the city to burn down large strips of ethnic neighborhoods in the name of racial justice hasn’t been lost on residents of the Midway.

Indeed. There are all too many horrific episodes in American history of white mobs attacking African-Americans or other ethnic minorities. But this summer, in the Twin Cities, might have been the first time they did it with the professed aim of helping them.

John Phelan is an economist at the Center of the American Experiment.