The Boogaloo Movement: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Getty A member of the far-right militia, Boogaloo Bois, walks next to protestors demonstrating outside Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department Metro Division 2 just outside of downtown Charlotte, North Carolina, on May 29, 2020.

Boogaloo is a word used by right-wing extremists who harbor a mistrust of law enforcement and the government. The word is a reference to a possible second civil war, which they hope to propagate.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, “the term ‘Boogaloo,’ which began to predominate in far-right web spaces in early 2019, began as a shorthand for civil unrest following potential local or federal firearms confiscation and has been embraced by antigovernment and white nationalist communities.”

The word has evolved and been embraced by various types of alt-right extremist groups, some of whom have been involved in both the coronavirus protests and the George Floyd demonstrations.

Here is what you need to know about the Boogaloo movement:

1. Three So-Called ‘Boogaloo Bois’ Were Charged With Domestic Terrorism in Las Vegas After Police Say They Were Inciting Violence at the George Floyd Protests

GettyPeople shout slogans and hold placards, on June 1, 2020, in downtown Las Vegas, as they take part in a “Black lives matter” rally in response to the recent death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died while in police custody.

Three men who identify as Boogaloo Bois and who are all former members of the military, according to Business Insider, were charged with domestic terrorism, conspiracy to damage and destroy by using fire and explosives, and possession of an unregistered firearm after police say they were trying to incite violence in Las Vegas where they were arrested on May 30.

Andrew Lynam Jr. 23, Stephen Parshall, 35, and William Loomis, 40, are each being held on a $1 million bond as they wait for their June 17 hearings, court record show.

Besides the arrest of the three affiliated Boogaloo Bois in Las Vegas, J.J. MacNab, a fellow at George Washington University’s Program on Extremism, told The Associated Press that she has seen Boogaloo Bois in crowds of George Floyd protestors wearing tactical gear and carrying high-powered rifles.

“They want to co-opt them in order to start their war, McNab told the AP. “They see themselves as being on the side of protesters and that the protesters themselves are useful in causing anarchy.”

2. The Name Comes From a 1980s Movie About a Group of Breakdancers on a Mission

The term comes from the 1984 movie called Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, a movie about a group of breakdancers trying to stop the demolition of a local rec center. The word was recently adopted by white extremists after it evolved over the decades, used in a joking way and in memes, as in people saying something and following it with the words, “Electric Boogaloo”, such as “The Little Mermaid 2: Electric Boogaloo.” In other words, it was meant to funny or light-hearted.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, “These jokes included ‘Civil War 2: Electric Boogaloo’ references, made every so often by gamers and history buffs, among others.  But its most recent, and most serious, iteration caught on and spread very quickly. Though some still use the phrase as a joke, an increasing number of people employ it with serious intent.”

Specifically, the ADL reports that in 2018 a Reddit thread was started by someone who posted a 2012 photo of California Gov. Gavin Newsome in which he was talking about coming for the guns of Americans. The post included the words, “Civil War 2: Electric Boogaloo,” meaning if that were to happen it would set off a civil war. Gun-rights enthusiasts shortened the term to Boogaloo and it has continued to evolve to have meaning to other right-wing extremist groups.

3. The Term Boogaloo has Morphed From Being Used by Gun Enthusiasts, Militia & Survivalists to Being Used by White Supremacist Accelerationist Groups Who Want a Second Civil War

GettyWhite nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the “alt-right” exchange insluts with counter-protesters as they attempt to guard the entrance to Emancipation Park during the “Unite the Right” rally August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Accelerationists are a type of white supremacist who want to see Americans go to war against each other sooner than later, so they look for ways to make it happen. Accelerationists commonly use the word Boogaloo to refer to a second coming civil war. Infiltrating protests are a tactic used by some groups or individuals. According to Brookings:

Accelerationism is the idea that white supremacists should try to increase civil disorder — accelerate it — in order to foster polarization that will tear apart the current political order…Accelerationists hope to set off a series of chain reactions, with violence fomenting violence, and in the ensuing cycle more and more people join the fray. When confronted with extremes, so the theory goes, those in the middle will be forced off the fence and go to the side of the white supremacists. If violence can be increased sufficiently, the System will run out of lackeys and collapse, and the race war will commence.

Brookings reported that accelerationists take a nod from a Neo-Nazi, James Mason, who came into his ideologies in the 1960s as a teenager and published a newsletter called Seige from 1980 to 1986. The SPLC said that Mason believed, “that only the full collapse of American democracy and society will bring conditions sufficient to bring order through Nazism.”

Mason, who was a fan of Charles Manson, according to the SPLC, said in one of his newsletters, “At this point, anything which contributes to friction, chaos and anarchy can only help us in the long run.”

4. Not All Who Call Themselves Boogaloo Bois Claim to be Racist, But  All Who Use the Term are Anti-Law Enforcement

While various extremist groups hold the belief that an internal war in the U.S is impending, all of the groups that want a civil war do not have the same ideologies. The use of the term Boogaloo is not exclusive to white supremacists. It is used by those who think law enforcement and the government should be overthrown.

Experts say groups will jump into causes that are not really their own in order to try to create disorder and to invoke police or other law enforcement to respond with violence. Alex Friedfeld, an investigative researcher at the ADL Center on Extremism in Chicago told Raw Story:

I think for a lot of boogaloo-ers, their primary interest is resisting the state, what they believe to be state tyranny. They have this hostility towards law enforcement…. They oppose these [pandemic] directives. They’re upset about no-knock raids, police brutality. The George Floyd case — this is an example of police brutality, this willingness of the state to execute those who disobey — so it’s not surprising that they showed up to protest.

To illustrate that point, on a Boogaloo Facebook Page called Big Igloo Boys that has nearly 34,000 followers, the administrator wrote on May 30:

Protest for support and solidarity of Minneapolis, and the George Floyd protesters. Mr Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis last weekend by the Minneapolis Police Department. The time for solidarity is now. We must set aside our differences, and unite against a common enemy in the police state.
Wear your PPE. Come in peace, prepare for there to be violence. Departments around the country have shown that they’re ready to agitate a crowd to illicit a violent response. This gives them an excuse to react with greater violence towards otherwise peaceful protesters. The media then uses the violence to discredit an entire event.

The group disdains what they call ‘Alphabet Boys’ or “Alphabetties”, meaning the FBI, ATF, CIA and the like. In a pinned post that is an open letter to law enforcement on the Big IglooFacebook page, the group calls for an end to no-knock raids after what seems to refer to the Breonna Taylor case, in which a 26-year-old African American EMT was shot and killed by police who raided the wrong home in the night while the Taylor was asleep with her boyfriend. Taylor’s boyfriend fired at the officers thinking they were intruders, and the police shot back, hitting Breonna eight times.

The April 7 post says:

This is, essentially, an open letter to all LE departments across the nation. If I could, I’d tag every single one of you. However, since I’m positive we’re being monitored by (insert alphabetties of your choosing) I’ll have to hope this is enough.
I am asking you, and your agencies, to put an end to the practice of no knock raids. Once again we hear of the wrong house being entered, a man trying to defend himself from a home invasion, and having his girlfriend murdered by the police as she lay in bed.
Absolutely nothing constructive, meaningful, or worthwhile comes of this practice. What we get are, more often than not, innocent people being murdered by botched police work. Stop yourselves long enough to take stock of what you’re doing. You’re murdering citizens in their homes. You all swore an oath to the constitution. Which part of the oath, or the document mentions murdering citizens in the dark of night?

5. Boogaloo-ers Are Known to Wear Hawaiian Shirts Along With Tactile Gear to Protests.

GettyArmed protesters demonstrate during the Michigan Conservative Coalition organized “Operation Haircut” outside the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan on May 20, 2020. – The group is protesting Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s mandatory closure to curtail the coronavirus pandemic.

Reports of protesters in Hawaiian shirts carrying guns started coming out this spring as people demonstrated their dissatisfaction with government directives to close much of the country amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Hawaiian shirts apparently come from off-shoots of the word Boogaloo, which began popping up online, according to The Independent. Words like “big igloo” and “big luau” which sound somewhat like Boogaloo became terminology for those in the know and Hawaiian shirts became an identifier of its members because of the big luau connotation.

Highlighting how boogaloo is an umbrella term meaning a second civil war for various ideological groups, The ADL wrote in April of men showing up at coronavirus protests in Hawaiian shirts at the behest of “Matt Marshall, a leader of the Three Percenters, a wing of the anti-government militia movement…The event was advertised by the Oath Keepers, another anti-government organization. Prior to the rally, Marshall encouraged participants to wear Hawaiian shirts, a nod to the extremist reference to the ‘Big Luau,’ which is another expression for the boogaloo, or a future civil war.”

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