June 15, 2020

IntelBrief: The Boogaloo Movement – From Eccentric Distraction to Domestic Terror

Members of the Boogaloo Movement attend a demonstration against the lockdown over concern about COVID-19 at the State House, Saturday, April 18, 2020, in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
  • The Boogaloo Movement is comprised of an eclectic mix of individuals unified by a deep disdain for government, especially law enforcement.
  • The Boogaloo Movement has a pro-gun culture that drives its anti-government sentiment, especially when state bodies consider taking anything but a narrow interpretation of the 2nd Amendment.
  • Using both the protests to compel states to reopen amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and the countrywide demonstrations resulting from the murder of George Floyd as a cover, adherents of the Boogaloo Movement have organized to plan and conduct acts of violence against the police.
  • A recent foiled attack in Las Vegas by three individuals and a separate set of shootings in Santa Cruz and Oakland by another individual was carried out by self-identified Boogaloo Bois, all four of whom had experience in the U.S. military.

The Boogaloo Movement, a patchwork of anti-government, pro-gun, neo-Nazi, and libertarian motivated individuals, has moved in a relatively short time from near obscurity in 2019 to infamy in mid-2020. Most accurately characterized as a collection of individuals with a shared antipathy for law enforcement, recent events indicate that there seems to be a nascent groundswell of Boogaloo operational networks. Within the movement, the term Boogaloo is a thinly veiled code word for ‘civil war’ and supporters point to an obscure mid-1980s movie for ironic inspiration. That movie, Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, is often referred to by so-called ‘Boogaloo Bois’ (a descriptor for an individual within the movement) as Civil War 2: Electric Boogaloo. The movement’s other eccentricities, like wearing Hawaiian shirts, apparel emblazoned with igloos, and adopting cartoon-like memes, belie the scope of the threat posed by hard-core self-identified Boogaloo Bois. The movement has chosen Duncan Lemp, a Boogaloo Boi killed by police during a raid of his home in Maryland, as an icon and martyr, similar to how incels worship Elliot Rodger or how white supremacists revere Anders Breivik.

The movement became more well-known when some of its members descended upon Richmond, Virginia, on January 20, 2020 to rally against state legislative efforts to adopt more stringent gun control laws. In the lead-up to the rally, which ultimately saw more than 20,000 protesters gather at the Virginia state capitol, a white supremacist group known as The Base was planning an attack. The Base’s efforts were foiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the peaceful protest continued with a wide array of militia, anti-government, and white supremacist groups in attendance. Among those in attendance were the Boogaloo members who, according to media reports, were well armed, often wearing an eclectic mix of neo-Nazi paraphernalia, emblems and masks often associated with the wider white supremacist movement, and the now ubiquitous Hawaiian shirts.

Since the Richmond protests, the Boogaloo Bois have deployed to multiple states to join anti-government lockdown protests associated with COVID-19. Similarly, following the death of George Floyd, some within the Boogaloo movement joined the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests, making appearances in multiple states. The movement’s primary interest is to disassemble the power of the state – and eroding the capabilities of the law enforcement community is an overarching strategic objective. Some within the Boogaloo movement are infiltrating the BLM protests with an eye toward using the protests to accelerate the Boogaloo Bois’ ultimate endgame – civil war. The COVID-19 and BLM protests serve as a convenient cover, or even a possible ‘false flag’ opportunity for the Boogaloo Bois. Many have questioned whether those within the movement truly care about racial inequities. Since the beginning of the BLM protests, President Trump has ascribed, without evidence, responsibility for domestic terrorism events to a far-left movement known as Antifa. Instead, by most accounts, the radical right, including actions attributed to the Boogaloo movement, has been responsible for most of the bloodshed associated with violence tangential to the BLM protests.

On May 30, the FBI arrested three individuals associated with the Boogaloo movement. The three men, all with U.S. military experience (Army, Air Force, and Navy) were arrested on their way to a BLM protest. They had in their possession Molotov cocktails that they were allegedly planning to use to spark mayhem at the protest. The public prosecutor in the case explained that the men were trying to hijack the peaceful protests to exploit the legitimate outrage over George Floyd’s death. In another case, Steven Carrillo, an Air Force sergeant, ambushed Santa Cruz, California, police deputies – one of whom was killed on June 6. Carrillo is also a suspect in the May 29 shooting death of a Federal Protective Service officer in Oakland, California. At the time of his arrest, on Carrillo’s car scrawled in blood was the term, ‘boog’, a short form of Boogaloo. It has also been reported that Carrillo’s Facebook page was laden with memes often associated with the Boogaloo Movement. According to a recent Bellingcat report, Facebook seems to be the Boogaloo movement’s preferred social media platform – a place where members have organized and discussed how to leverage the BLM protests to their advantage. While Boogaloo has, until recently, been characterized as more of an oddity than a threat – it is now clear that individuals within the movement pose a domestic terrorism threat, and individuals linked to the movement have been arrested in Texas, Tennessee, Nevada, and Arkansas, demonstrating geographic diversity throughout the United States. 


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