On Friday the US Department of Justice released a federal criminal complaint against Ivan H. Hunter, 26, of Boerne, Texas, charging him with participating in a riot for his alleged role during protests in Minneapolis, Minnesota following the police murder of George Floyd on May 25. Hunter was arrested in Houston, Texas. The allegations against Hunter are only the latest in over a dozen instances so far this year of violence by adherents of the far-right boogaloo movement—known as boogaloo bois or boys—that have resulted in either criminal charges, arson, or death.
A leaked September 29 Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) intelligence report prepared by the Dallas, Texas, field office warns that leading up to the November election, “boogaloo adherents” and “militia violent extremists” are increasing “violent and criminal activity” in the Dallas area. The assessment was made the same day President Donald Trump, in the first presidential debate with his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, refused to condemn white supremacists and militia groups, instead instructing the fascistic street gang the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.”
Feeling more than a little exhausted from a late night spent tracking yet another polarizing fatal shooting at a protest, this time in Austin, I am reminded of what has become a tired — but no less accurate — cliché, to speak of “Two Americas.” I’d add that the citizens of each rump republic increasingly see two different scenes — and certainly draw divergent conclusions — from the same video footage. Details of thiss particular incident were initially sketchy and contested. However, most reports agree that libertarian activist Garrett Foster, who was himself armed with a rifle which he was in the habit of carrying when participating in Black Lives Matter protests, was shot and killed after he approached a car that drove into the crowd. The driver, who fled the scene, later called 911 and admitted he shot a protester who he said had pointed a rifle at him (which witnesses dispute); he was questioned but not arrested, as was a third man who allegedly fired at the car.
Lately a question I have been asking myself is: how worried do we need to be about the Boogaloo groups? The Boogaloo movement, if you’ve been sitting this one out so far, refers to a loosely knit group of right-wing extremists, some of whom advocate for second civil war. (The name derives from the camp classic breakdancing movie Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo. In the delightfully dry phrasing of Wikipedia authors, “2: Electric Boogaloo became a verbal template appended to a topic as a signal of pejorative parody.”) While the use of the term in this way dates to at least 2012, it has gained new prominence after a series of violent incidents linked to its adherents. An Air Force staff sergeant was charged with the murder of a Federal Protective Service officer and a Santa Cruz sheriff’s sergeant earlier this month, and authorities have said they found paraphernalia connected with the movement in the suspect’s van.
The U.S. military appears to have a brewing boogaloo problem. Active-duty military are flocking to online networks frequented by the anti-government movement, known for its meme culture and Hawaiian shirt-clad adherents, who are often called Boogaloo Bois. “Boogaloo” is code for civil war, which is the ultimate goal of the movement, and some of its followers trade in memes glorifying violence against federal agents and crack jokes about the impending “Boog.” Recently they’ve become regular fixtures at anti-lockdown and Black Lives Matter protests in states that allow open-carry of military-style firearms. An analysis of some of the largest private Facebook groups catering to the boogaloo movement found that scores of members self-identified as active-duty military on their personal profiles.