West Hollywood; Seattle; Portland; Pasco, Wash.; and Palos Verdes Estates, Calif.
These are just a handful of the cities where recently arrested Kenosha, Wis., rioters are listed as coming from. And as riots continue to pop up across the United States, such data has fueled speculation about the origins of the agitators and how they might be organized.
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The records released so far reveal a mix – of out-of-towners, of people whose home city police do not know and also locals. Records reflect plenty of Kenosha residents have been swept up in the arrests there, just as Washington, D.C., and Minneapolis residents have taken part in the unrest in those cities.
In perhaps the most high-profile piece of speculation, President Trump on Monday night in an interview with “The Ingraham Angle” claimed that he’d spoken to someone who was on a “plane from a certain city this weekend and in the plane, it was almost completely loaded with thugs wearing these dark uniforms, black uniforms with gear” who planned “to do big damage,” seemingly implying that organized rioters are flying from city to city.
While Trump, who said the alleged incident with the dark-uniformed people on the plane is under investigation, took heat for the vague and ominous comments, he is far from the first elected official to say rioters may be organized and traveling for the purpose of instigating unrest. Democratic Washington D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser made that claim just hours earlier on Monday.
“There are people who come from stretches of Maryland and Virginia. People who come from Portland and Minneapolis,” she said of individuals arrested in the District for riot-related activity. “The people quoted about the organized protests were from Minneapolis and Portland.”
Added Metropolitan Police Department Chief Peter Newsham: “From Thursday until early this morning, the large majority of arrestees, over 70 percent, are not from the District of Columbia. So they appear to be folks who are coming into our city, our peaceful city, with the intent of destroying property and hurting folks.”
And this spring, St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter made a false claim that “every single person” arrested in the initial riots after George Floyd’s death was from out of state, while Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey blamed “White supremacists” and “out of state instigators,” claims that were also later shown to be largely false.
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The Department of Justice (DOJ) has launched an investigation into the “organizations, [and] the individuals that are paying for these individuals to move across the country,” Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Chad Wolf told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson on Monday. Wolf said the “tactics” used in riots in some cities are being imported to others. The investigation comes after calls for such a probe from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., Trump-supporting Democratic Georgia state Rep. Vernon Jones, and more.
And arrest data supports the assertion that at least some of the rioters are traveling long distances to take part in the violence, though for the most part arrests appear to be of locals and people who come into cities from their surrounding areas.
In D.C., one person arrested this summer was identified as being from Washington state. Two people were from California, two from New York, one from Wisconsin, three from Florida and others were from a smattering of states. Overall, 43% of those arrested in connection with riots were from Washington, D.C., 27% were from Maryland and 12% from Virginia, according to Metropolitan Police Department Data.
Interestingly, 12% of the people arrested in the D.C. riots were categorized as from an “unknown” state. It’s unclear why exactly that percentage was so high, and the Metropolitan Police Department did not say whether people arrested at riots were refusing to provide police with identification, or simply not carrying identification when they came into contact with police. The individuals from “unknown” states did have names and ages recorded by the police.
“Persons arrested by the Metropolitan Police Department must be identified as part of the arrest booking process,” an MPD spokesperson said in response to questions from Fox News. “There is no legal requirement for a person to carry identification in the District of Columbia. Due to this fact, MPD collects certain mandated biographical data (DC Code 5-113.01) as part of the arrest process. When this information is provided verbally, it is recorded as provided by the arrestee. A person charged with a crime does not need to have an address to be arrested.”
In some cases, however, rioting is mostly homegrown. In Minneapolis, dozens of people were arrested last week in rioting and looting after the police were wrongly blamed for a man’s death – he shot himself. The Minneapolis Police Department on Aug. 28 arrested 39 people, two-thirds of whom were Minneapolis residents. Only one person was from out of state, and the rest were from other cities in Minnesota.
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Kenosha, Wis., a much smaller city than either D.C. or Minneapolis, however, appears to have been hit the hardest by out-of-state rioters, according to local authorities. The Kenosha Police Department tweeted that arrests it made during the riots from last week netted people from 44 different cities, with 102 of those individuals living outside of Kenosha.
Many of the people who were from outside Kenosha were from other cities in Wisconsin, including Green Bay and Milwaukee. And there were several people from Illinois arrested who had apparently crossed the state line to join in the riots – Kenosha is in southern Wisconsin near the Illinois border.
But there were several people arrested who had traveled extraordinarily long distances to take part in the unrest. Most notably, according to a Fox News analysis of the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department inmate records from last week, at least nine people who were arrested were from Washington state, with several from Seattle. There were also at least two from Oregon, three from California, two from Minnesota, two from North Carolina, one from Kentucky and one from Connecticut.
These numbers, of course, only represent those who were arrested. It is likely there were many more people from out of state who were not arrested during the Kenosha riots. But on balance, there were more people arrested from Kenosha than any other individual place.
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The large number of locals also indicates the riots are largely not centrally organized, but instead planned on social media with activists in the individual cities and surrounding areas converging on urban areas, as a fraction of the crowds is represented by out-of-state rioters.
A number of high-profile people on the right have lobbed accusations that the rioters may be funded by an outside party. These have included Sen. Paul, who was surrounded by an angry crowd last week as he left the White House following President Trump’s Republican National Convention (RNC) address.
“My question is: Who are these people?” Paul said in an op-ed for Fox News. “Who paid for their hotel rooms? Who flew them in? Law enforcement needs to look at the funding of violent criminal activity like this.”
Georgia Rep. Jones, a Democrat who supports Trump, made a similar accusation that rioters were being paid in an interview with Fox News after he had a similar experience to Paul’s leaving the White House last week. And Colorado Rep. Buck, a Republican, called for the DOJ to investigate alleged funding of the rioters.
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But authorities, to this point, have been unable to pin down any central organization or funding source that’s connected to the rioters they’ve arrested, leaving open the question of whether the riots are actually being funded and planned centrally or if they are more organic.
“We can’t connect … any protester to a single group or funder or organization. Though I don’t think it would be a big leap to say the type of organization and resources they’re bringing to bear are organized and funded,” Mayor Bowser said Monday.
The Minneapolis Police Department did not say whether it could tell if there was a central force organizing or paying the rioters, and the Kenosha Police Department did not respond to a request for comment for this story from Fox News.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw, Evie Fordham and Yael Halon contributed to this report.