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What Is the 'Boogaloo' Movement?

Even the extremists can't agree on specifics, but guns and anti-government sentiment are key
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 18, 2020 12:38 PM CDT

(Newser) – References to the extremist "boogaloo" movement have appeared in court cases around the country, including California, where a man is accused of killing a sheriff's deputy and a federal officer, and Texas, where a man charged with drug possession was denied bond over his alleged ties to the movement. So what is it? That might depend on which supporter you ask. Coverage:

  • Its infancy: The Washington Post describes it as a "far-right extremist movement born on social media and fueled by anti-government rhetoric." It started on a 4chan forum focusing on firearms, per the BBC, before spreading to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, where experts have identified hundreds of thousands of followers.
  • About that name: It comes from Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo, the 1984 break-dancing movie sequel, which is almost identical to the original. Supporters reportedly see armed conflict with authorities as a second Civil War. "Big Igloo" and "Big Luau" are also references to the movement—hence the Hawaiian shirts seen on some supporters.

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  • No formal leadership: Some support pages call for violence against police and other authorities while others appear "merely commercial, peddling boogaloo-themed merchandise," per the Post. Even supporters seem to be at odds, with some backing Black Lives Matter protests and others espousing white supremacist views. There is no clear leader or headquarters.
  • 'Armed overthrow': But there are two fundamental beliefs, per the BBC: "a desire for an armed overthrow of the government, and an unwavering commitment to gun ownership." That's why independent research groups had warned about the movement before armed supporters began appearing at recent protests. Federal authorities accuse supporters of wreaking havoc at peaceful gatherings, taking advantage of them to further their cause.
  • A quote: “They are 2nd Amendment insurrectionists,” Brian Levin, executive director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino, tells the Los Angeles Times. “The boogaloo boys believe in armed insurrection and include attacks on the police.” In the LAT summation, the group is "a growing, extremist, anti-government movement aimed at fomenting unrest and civil war."
  • Military experience: Three men with military experience, all of whom backed the boogaloo ideology, planned to use explosives to disrupt a protest in Las Vegas last month and also plotted to firebomb a Forest Service facility, according to authorities. Steven Carillo, the active-duty Air Force staff sergeant charged in the California murders, allegedly wrote "boog" in blood on a car he'd stolen and posted on Facebook about attracting "mobs of angry people to use to our advantage," per the Post.
  • Other cases: A man accused of running a steroid distribution ring in Texas was denied bond after allegedly calling for "guerrilla warfare" against National Guard members at protests. Police also seized military-style rifles, handguns, and ammunition from a boogaloo supporter at a protest in Denver last month. And a new report claims boogaloo supporters were responsible for an armed protest at the Michigan statehouse on May 1, reports Forbes.
  • Right-wing ties: "The numbers are overwhelming: Most of the violence is coming from the extreme right wing," Clint Watts, a former FBI agent and expert in extremist political activity, tells the Post. John Farmer, director of Rutgers' Eagleton Institute of Politics questions why President Trump is more focused on left-wing antifa. "I think it’s political neglect," he says.
  • Facebook's response: Accused of pushing people toward extremism, Facebook says it's taken action against supporters who advocated for "mass violence," and removed boogaloo-themed content that violated policies against violence and incitement. The movement is also tied to disinformation campaign related to coronavirus lockdowns, which they view as "an alarming sign of tyranny," per the BBC.
(Read more Boogaloo stories.)

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