On Sept. 5, two men from Austin, Texas, were charged in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis in connection with a plot to disrupt the Republican National Convention (RNC) held in St. Paul, Minn., last week. According to the criminal complaint filed in the case, each man was charged with one count of possessing Molotov cocktails.
In the complaint, authorities noted that one of the men, Bradley Crowder, was arrested Sept. 1 for disorderly conduct. The second man, David McKay, was apparently arrested Sept. 1 but then released. McKay was arrested a second time after a search warrant on the apartment at which he and Crowder were staying in St. Paul uncovered a total of eight completed Molotov cocktails. Authorities claim that Crowder and McKay had planned to use the Molotov cocktails against police vehicles in a parking lot near the apartment where they had stayed. According to an FBI affidavit, law enforcement officers used electronic means to monitor a conversation McKay had about using the incendiary devices. In the monitored conversation, McKay reportedly said, “…it’s worth it if an officer gets burned or maimed.”
Crowder and McKay, who were part of a small cell of activists that called itself the Austin Affinity Group, also brought a rented trailer to St. Paul that contained 35 improvised riot shields made from stolen traffic barrels. According to an FBI affidavit, the shields included protruding screws — an indication that they were not just defensive shields, but offensive weapons that could be used against the police. During the execution of the search warrant on the men’s apartment, police also recovered gas masks, slingshots, helmets and kneepads — items that underscore the protesters’ plans to actively resist the police.
Crowder and McKay were not the only ones planning to use potentially deadly means to disrupt the RNC. On Aug. 30, Matthew DePalma of Flint, Mich., was arrested by agents from the Joint Terrorism Task Force at a residence in Minneapolis and found to be in possession of five Molotov cocktails. DePalma was also charged in Federal District Court with possession of the devices. According to an affidavit, DePalma told an FBI source that he planned to use the Molotov cocktails on police. In one conversation, DePalma reportedly told the FBI source, “I will light one of those pigs on fire.”