As if what’s happening in the US right now isn’t worrying enough, people across America are now being freaked out by a mysterious person who is becoming known as ‘Umbrella Man’.
Dressed in black, heavily masked and, bizarrely, carrying an umbrella, he was spotted methodically breaking shop windows as the first Minneapolis protests erupted last week. There have subsequently been other claimed sightings of the man at protests in Atlanta and Washington DC.
After being briefly caught on camera in Minneapolis, he disappeared as mysteriously as he had appeared. He seemed to be operating alone and avoiding contact with other protestors, even when they tried to engage with him afterwards.
Watch a YouTube video of the encounter here:
Wild speculation about the man’s identity
So who could he be, this person also being referred to as the “creepy white dude”? A right-winger intent on fermenting racial violence? An undercover police officer with an agenda? A secret agent? An umbrella salesman with an unusual sales technique? A weirdo with an inordinate fear of rain?
Even the attorney general for the state of Minnesota, where Minneapolis is located, has taken to Twitter to ask if anyone can identify the man. Ellison says he “doesn’t look like any civil rights protestor I have ever seen. Looks like a provocateur”.
You can see the attorney general’s tweet here:
Police say he is not one of their officers
The conspiracy theorists, unsurprisingly, are loving it. One theory is that the man is a police officer from the neighbouring city of St Paul, something that began when the policeman’s ex-fiancé said she recognised ‘his eyes’ and the mask the man is wearing.
But the police department has since denied it is their officer, saying his whereabouts had been accounted for at the time Umbrella Man was breaking shop windows.
Another notion is that he could be a member of a white supremacist movement looking to spark widespread violence.
Said Forbes magazine: “The speculation into Umbrella Man’s identity comes as Minneapolis officials suggest that growing numbers of people, including possible white supremacists, on the streets showing destructive behaviour are not members of the community and are coming to the city from out of state.”