COVID-19 Day 79: False Flags and Mistaken Identities in Minneapolis Riots

At the start of the George Floyd Minneapolis riots, a white man dressed, unlike other protesters, in an all-black ANTIFA-like outfit, professional gas mask, and umbrella, broke the windows of AutoZone car parts store which was later looted and burned. This incident was caught on video as other protesters attempted to stop him, and he eventually fled on foot. What followed was a rumor storm that claimed the Umbrella-Man was a St. Paul Police officer conducting a false-flag tactic to provoke the protestors to violence. 

My cursory investigation into this shocking allegation casts doubt on its voracity and accuracy. The incident was captured on livestream video of one of the protesters during the Minneaplolis riots on May 28. A group of protesters were gathered around a shopping center next to an AutoZone store. 

A tweet of the video shared by small-time Twitch streamer SeanXSolo (@Seanxsolo) shows a white man dressed all in black ANTIFA-style casual tactical wear, carrying an umbrella and wearing a +$250 professional (not military) grade North 7600 gas mask. This individual proceeds to break the windows of an AutoZone store near protesters. He walks away after being challenged by some protesters for breaking the windows (some of whom he threatens for following him). He doesn’t have friends or family among the protesters and walks off alone. The AutoZone would later be looted and burned down.   

The Twitter account of Toronto based dancer Dimensional Creature (@jcpearce18) responded to SeanXSolo by retweeted the video with additional footage with the comment, “That’s a Cop!!!” from a Serbian Twitter user Luka Duvnjak (@Luka_Duvnjak)

Twitter user Dylan Park (@dyllyp) a New York based film and commercial director, tweeted that his ‘close friend’ Megan sent him phone screen grabs of a TXT conversation she was having with a friend she identifies as “Jake’s Ex-Wife”. He would later identify the man as Officer Jacob Pederson of the St. Paul Police Department. 

Strangely I have not been able to confirm that there is any police officer in the St. Paul Police Department named Jacob Peterson. Nor that the police officer in the photo is he. It should be noted that the identity of this woman claiming to be his Ex-wife has not been confirmed, nor that Officer Pederson has an ex-wife. The St. Paul Police Department flatly denies that the gas-masked man in the video is one of their officers.

Post for @dyllyp identifying the gas-masked man

The TXT conversation between Megan and The Ex brings up some questions. How is this woman able to identify her gloves from a low-res photo that looks like any black gloves? Why would her Ex-husband use her gloves and not his own, assuming they have the same size hands? Why does she own a +$250 gas mask? Why would her Ex be in possession of her gloves and gas mask? Why would a police officer buy or use a gas mask that was incompatible with his police issued gas mask? Why would she mention ‘tactical boots’ as identifying him, when so many people wear tactical boots?

If this woman really is the Ex-Wife of an Officer Pederson, who calls him ‘a psycho’, then there is a strong possibility she would be inclined to want to embarrass him. She is as yet unwilling to positively identify herself to the public so there is no way to confirm if she has any alterer motives. Or if @dyllyp or any of the twitter users are doing anything more than publicly speculating. 

But to bolster his claims @dyllyp posted some photoshopped images of this police officer’s face and superimposing it into the masked suspects gas mask. While some consider this proof of his identity, I call this into question with my own photoshop images of various white guys in this virtual lineup. 

Virtual lineup of the AutoZone Umbrella-Man

A recent study found that 45%-60% of Twitter Accounts discussing and encouraging ‘Reopen America’ protests are bots. It’s not unreasonable to assume that these same bots are also retweeting and amplifying divisive tweets and rumors about the George Floyd killing and encouraging violent protests and rioting. And it’s also possible these bots or fake accounts are amplifying or encouraging these rumors about Officer Pederson being the Umbrella-Man are attempts to fan the flames of outrage and sow distrust of both the protestors and the government’s motives.

In a strange coincidence, when you Google ‘Jacob Pederson’ a number of white guys came up who bear a passing similarity to each other. If the Ex-Wife of a Jake Pederson is real, could she not be mistaking her ex-husband for any of these other Pederson’s? My little retouching exercise shows how easily we can be fooled when so little of a face is visible. We see what we want to see. But maybe I’m just being racist and thinking all white guys look alike. 

All Pederson’s look like white guys in gas masks.


Honeywell North 7600 Gas Mask

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