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What is the Boogaloo movement and who are the Boogaloo bois?

The coronavirus crisis and protests following George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis Police has prompted the rise of a far-right extremist movement, the Boogaloo bois.

What is the Boogaloo movement and who are the Boogaloo bois?
JEFF KOWALSKY AFP

Tensions have been rising in the United States throughout the coronavirus crisis and reached tipping point with the killing of George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police officers on 25 May. During the protests that followed in Texas, Tampa and Pennsylvania – states which allow open carry of firearms, one particular group stood out from the rest with their garish, Hawaiian shirts, beards, tattoos and military gear – the Boogaloo bois. The Boogaloo is a violent far-right extremist movement who are anti-government with some believed to be intent on stirring up a civil war. The name is nothing to do with the percussion-heavy latin style of music that became popular in the 1960s, but comes from the 1984 B-boy film Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.

Boogaloo is code word for Civil War

The Boogaloo movement has no set philosophy and cannot be easily categorised although it does have some ties with white supremacist and Libertarianism ideologies. Its main purpose is to spark anarchy and revolution with the ultimate aim of inciting a civil war. Members generally have some history with or links to the US military, many being army veterans, former Marines in a whole range of ranks.

They have a highly visible online presence, operating in forums on 4Chan or in groups on Facebook and Reddit, according to a review by Tech Transparency Project (TTP), 125 Facebook groups devoted to the boogaloo were detected in April - 63% of them were created in the last three months.

A report compiled by the Network Contagion Research Institute explained, “certain extremist subgroups have been coalescing demonstrably over social media into what is best described as a ‘Militia-sphere’ exploiting recent protests regarding the George Floyd incident and transforming peaceful protests into violent chaos. Their conduct now ranges from shooting at Black Lives Matter protesters, to upturning police vehicles, to committing acts of arson on court buildings”.

Police arrest Boogaloo bois

Earlier this month, the FBI arrested three Boogaloo Bois Stephen Parshall, Andrew Lynam Jr. and William Loomis following a tip-off that they were allegedly planning to cause chaos and mass confusion by throwing Molotov cocktails, fireworks and smoke bombs to crowds at a Black Lives Matter protest in Las Vegas.

Arrests of Boogaloo bois have become more common – last month, during a vehicle search, Denver police uncovered a whole arsenal of military-grade semi-automatic assault rifles, magazines, military issue gas masks and other weapons in the boot of a car and belonging to a 20-year-old, self-styled gun enthusiast by the name of Chevy McGee. A couple of days later in Chattanooga, Tennessee, a 29-year-old man carrying an AR-15 rifle and multiple magazines of ammunition was detained by police during a protest in Miller Park.

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