What drove protesters in unrest over Floyd?
ST. PAUL (AP) — 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, Minnesota 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, the Pioneer Press reported.
“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.
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, Illinois.
“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.”
Bryce Michael Williams, an internet personality from Staples, has been equally open — if a bit more mission-driven — about his involvement in the fires that destroyed the Minneapolis Third Precinct police station and surrounding businesses during the looting and unrest that followed Floyd’s May 25 death.
“For once we feel like we’re in complete control,” Williams tells an online interviewer on Instagram for a documentary he’s filming about Floyd protests around the country. “The police can’t do anything. We’re burning down their sanctuary, their home.”
Minneapolis suffered an estimated $350 million in damages related to the unrest, looting and arson in the days following Floyd’s death.
St. Paul Planning and Economic Development has estimated business losses to be $73 million across 300 St. Paul properties, or $82 million including store inventories. That doesn’t include the long-term impact of lost customers or landlords that have declined to renew store leases.