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Here’s What We Know About “Boogaloos”

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Air Force Staff Sergeant Steven Carrillo, 32, is accused of killing two law enforcement officers and injuring others in a violent spree that spread from Oakland to Ben Lomond between May 29 and June 6. He’s been charged with murder and attempted murder, along with a slew of other charges.

Robert Alvin Justus Jr, Carrillo’s accomplice in the Oakland shooting, has been charged with aiding and abetting for driving the van Carrillo reportedly shot from during the attack. 

Federal officer David Patrick (Pat) Underwood was fatally shot on the night May 29 as a Black Lives Matter protest raged nearby in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Santa Cruz County sheriff’s Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller was killed when Carrillo ambushed officers in Ben Lomond June 6. 

Steven Carrillo, 32, of Ben Lomond has been arrested and criminally charged in the murders of two law enforcement officers, including David Patrick Underwood in Oakland on May 29, 2020. He is facing several other charges for attempted murder and assault for both incidents in Oakland and in Ben Lomond. The FBI said in its criminal complaint that Carrillo was found to have ties to the pro-gun, anti-government far-right extremist group coined as the “Boogaloo” movement, which aims to incite the next civil war. Photo courtesy of Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Department.

In criminal complaints against Carrillo, the FBI ties both men to a new far-right extremist group coined the “Boogaloo” movement. The group espouses anti-government, pro-gun, libertarian ideologies that stem from a core belief that the next civil war is approaching. The term “boogaloo” has been appropriated for their cause but originated in a light-hearted way to describe cultural and musical overlaps. The new militia-type movement hardly represents what society has known of the term before recently.

Calling themselves “boogaloo bois,” the group, which seems to have evolved from a gamer group, has been seen gathered in public spaces donned in camo (or Hawaiian shirts, oddly) and armed with all sorts of heavy weaponry, but they tend to coalesce and spread their messages in online chat rooms like 4chan. As opposed to the fear many Americans currently feel with today’s division and tense social conflict, those who ascribe to the boogaloo theory see it as an opportunity, a catalyst for armed confrontation. 

Memes are popping up all over the place with similar cartoon themes appropriated by white supremacist groups.

A “Pepe” Boogaloo meme. Image courtesy of the ADL.

Become unreasonable

Carrillo allegedly used his own blood to scrawl “boog” and “I became unreasonable” across the hood of a car in the heat of his violent spree in the Santa Cruz mountains.

Members purportedly encourage one another to “become unreasonable” and take it upon themselves to incite violence they believe will push the country to the brink of civil war. Joel Finkelstein, director of the Network Contagion Research Institute said of the group:

“Elements of The Boogaloo have evolved from a gathering of militia enthusiasts and Second Amendment advocates into a full-fledged violent extremist group, which inspires lone wolf actors and cell-like actors alike.”

“Given recent events and the inability of law enforcement to grasp and intercept this new mode of distributed terror, we think an increase in these kinds of violent attacks against police are almost inevitable.” 

 

Scapegoats 

Donald Trump and others have pinned all the blame for violence and destruction that has occurred surrounding the massive George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests over the course of the past two weeks. He’s repeatedly referred to Antifa and “thugs” as the perpetrators of looting and violence, declaring that the U.S. will designate the antifascist movement a “terrorist organization.” It should be noted that what we call Antifa is not an organized group — it stems from a black bloc method of protest that has been used in different countries during various confrontations since the 60s. 

However, he and his administration have struggled, to put it lightly, to address rising threats of right-wing extremists and white supremacist groups. The FBI has looked into Trump’s claims and in many cases found people associated with Antifa were not in any way an organizing factor in the recent violence, including in Washington D.C. on May 31. In contrast, there have been several right-wing connections to violence, both at recent protests and in separate attacks. 

Armed “Boogaloo bois” in Hawaiian shirts waiting at the area of Friday night’s rioting on May 30, 2020 in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo courtesy of Photo Access / MediaPunch /IPX.

Three “boogaloo bois” were arrested for a Texas firebombing in April. Another three were arrested and charged with conspiracy for a plot to incite violence at a Las Vegas protest after George Floyd’s death. In that arrest, the suspects were found with unregistered firearms and after they had filled gas cans and prepared Molotov cocktails. The complaint against the Las Vegas group stated they intended to “hopefully create civil unrest and rioting throughout Las Vegas.” 

There are dozens of other cases where boogaloo members have been recently arrested for similar plots across the country. They are using the current conditions of unrest to push their civil war agenda along and hiding behind the chaos and cover the president is providing.

Essentially, boogaloos are the next iteration of far-right extremists and despite the FBI’s concern over their emergence, the president seems far too comfortable shifting blame for the violence to people and groups less likely to vote for him in November.

 

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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.

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