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The so-called Boogaloo boys (also Boogaloo bois) are a militia movement of far-right gun nuts formed in 2019 that are trying to overthrow the government to then spark a second American Civil War. They can be best described as a bizarre combination of White Supremacists and Yippies/Hipsters, in that they revel in their own absurdities. The name is a reference to the racist dogwhistle "boogaloo," and they've become infamous for their involvement in the George Floyd protests, trying to inflame an already burning-hot situation.
In Internet lore, the term "boogaloo" has had a long history of being appended to sequels, usually to mock its poor quality. The term derives from the film Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo, the second film in a series made to capitalize on the popularity of the street dance form known as "breakdancing" in the 1980s. (Ironically for those invoking the term to reference a potential race war, the two films in the Breakin series actually strongly celebrate multiculturalism and depict an environment where everyone is accepted.)
The term boogaloo itself refers to a genre of Latin music and dance, popular in the 1960s, which fused African American rhythm and blues with Latin music forms. This melting pot of influences resulted in songs like the hit song from Pete Rodriguez, "I Like It Like That" (a song which references the term "boogaloo" in the lyrics, and which younger audiences might know because Cardi B sampled it fifty years later).
The term "boogaloo" also refers to a form of street dance that fused various dances within African American communities in the 1950s, and was then picked up by many soul music musicians and listeners in the 1960s. The Godfather of Soul himself, James Brown, can be seen doing the "James Brown boogaloo" dance in a clip from 1966. The term "electric boogaloo" (as used in Breakin' 2) actually refers to a dance derived from this in the 1970s, that added a street dance technique called "popping" to the boogaloo dance technique.
All of this multicultural history is lost in the Internet chat rooms of the far right, where the simple meme of an "electric boogaloo" being a poor sequel was utilized to imply that an upcoming poor sequel to the American Civil War, Civil War 2: Electric Boogaloo, was on its way. Hence the name of the movement: "boogaloo".
Like many other noxious concepts on the web, the "boogaloo" movement can trace its origins to 4chan, going back at least as far as 2012. However, instead of originating with /b/ or /pol/, it is claimed that much of the boogaloo movement has its origins in the /k/ group, the 4chan area devoted to weapons.
Compared to /pol/ on 4chan, the politics are much more varied in nature (ranging from posters who are outright white supremacist to posters who strongly support Black Lives Matter). But the talk on civil war, social collapse, and violent conflict with law enforcement officers is much, much heavier. Unsurprisingly, the boogaloo movement is either an outgrowth of or allied with the militia movement. Ironically for an anti-government movement, the movement generally appeals to (and is marketed towards) former members of the military.[note 1]
Later, the movement migrated to Facebook. A report published in April 2020 identified 125 Facebook groups devoted to the idea of the "boogaloo".
A lexicostatistical analysis of 100 million posts from 4chan's /pol/ produced a topic map that found that the word boogaloo was closely associated with 'racewar' and Day of the Rope|'dotr' (Day of the Rope), and more loosely associated with 'rwd' (right-wing deathsquads), 'fash'/'fashi' (fascism), and 'Atomwaffen'.
The group takes some of its inspiration from Marvin Heemeyer (1951–2004), who killed himself after going on a rampage in Granby, Colorado with a bulldozer that he had modified into an armored vehicle (known as 'killdozer'). Heemeyer had written "Sometimes reasonable men must do unreasonable things." and "I became unreasonable." The latter quote was adopted by the Boogaloos, and was written in blood along with the word 'boog' by Steven Carrillo before his arrest.
Crimes of fashion
Like anything 4chan related, the "boogaloo" meme devolved to satisfy the need to shitpost and also to disguise their intention. Soundalike terms like "big luau" and "big igloo" were used online in place of the term "boogaloo". As a result (bizarrely, again, for a group concerned (to some degree) about a race war and white supremacy), the group loosely embraced the Hawaiian shirt and started wearing this at protests, along with the usual military fatigues and weapons typical of the militia movement.
Another term used by those in the boogaloo movement is "boojahideen", a slang reference to people in the movement. This term is a play on the term "mujahideen" that is widely used in the English world to describe Islamic guerilla-type militant groups.
COVID-19 and George Floyd protests of 2020
Awareness of the group increased in 2020, when many devotees of "the boogaloo" started appearing both at the relatively small protests in April 2020 protesting lockdowns due to the 2019-20 COVID-19 outbreak, and especially at the June 2020 protests against police brutality due to the killing of George Floyd.
While some "boogaloo boys" actually strongly supported the protests against police brutality, some of them went the opposite direction and actively embraced a violent form of accelerationism, encouraging and promoting violence in order to speed up the collapse of society. As a result, the boogaloo movement has been linked to some of the relatively few violent incidents that have occurred at these protests.
The boogaloo movement's role in the protest violence, of course, is conveniently being ignored by populist right wing outlets like Fox News and populist crime against humanity Donald Trump. (These folks prefer to blame Antifa, despite scant evidence that "antifa" has been a significant player in the protests as of June 12, 2020.)
Facebook's role in the spread
Facebook has been strongly criticized for allowing these groups to proliferate, despite many posts in these groups "directly advocating for violent action and tactically planning how to defeat government entities", according to the watchdog group Tech Transparency Project. The Southern Poverty Law Center examined these groups and found that most of them were replete with memes fantasizing about or encouraging violence against the police. Other posts contained threats aimed at politicians, especially those who have passed gun law reform measures. Many of the individuals listed in the "arrestees" section below were active in Facebook boogaloo groups — or in one case, was actually a group moderator.
Despite the clear terms of service violations, it took severe civil unrest for Facebook to finally take measures to limit the spread of "boogaloo" groups, but these measures are widely regarded to be too little, too late. Finally, on June 30, 2020, Facebook, facing increasing pressure for its lackluster handling of hate speech and other harmful content, banned a large amount of "boogaloo" groups and designated the boogaloo movement as a "dangerous organization", giving it the same classification as terrorist and hate groups. Of course, prior to (and even after) this point, Facebook was making quite the profit from pro-boogaloo advertisements calling for violence against police and state officials.
- Dallas-Ft.Worth, Texas, April 11, 2020: A 36 year old man named Aaron Swenson, under the pseudonym "Aaron Derpingston", was charged with making a terroristic threat against a peace officer in a Facebook live video. According to police and the Tech Transparency Project, a Facebook profile belonging to Swenson included references to the "boogaloo" movement. This was not the first time Swenson had threatened law enforcement online.
- Las Vegas, Nevada, May 30, 2020: Stephen Parshall, 35, Andrew Lynam Jr., 23, and William Loomis, 40 (all ex-US Navy members) were charged with domestic terrorism after federal prosecutors accused them of trying to spark violence during police brutality protests in Las Vegas. The three defendants allegedly were preparing to use explosives at a Black Lives Matter protest; according to the criminal complaint, the three men were arrested after filling gas cans and making Molotov cocktails in glass bottles.
- Columbia, South Carolina, June 4-5, 2020: Kevin Ackley, 22, was charged with inciting a riot and aggravated breach of peace for throwing a water bottle at law enforcement officers during protests against police brutality. Separately, Joshua Barnard, 24, and Joseph Watson, 20, were charged with multiple offenses, "including breaking into a motor vehicle, looting, larceny…" from the same protest. All three were identified as members of the Boogaloo movement. The demonstration that occurred on this date was mostly peaceful in nature, except for the small number of violent protesters, that ended up containing a significant amount of boogaloo movement supporters.
- Northern California, June 16, 2020: Steven Carrillo and Robert Justus were charged with murder and attempted murder for shooting two federal officers guarding the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building. According to authorities, both men traveled to Oakland, California with the intention to kill police officers, and believed that the large demonstrations spurred by Floyd's death would allow them to get away with it. Steven Carillo's vehicle contained a ballistic vest with a patch that featured an igloo and a Hawaiian style print — symbols associated with the boogaloo movement. Prior to Carrillo's arrest (where he again would attack police officers), he used his own blood to scrawl the word "boog" on the hood of the vehicle he carjacked, according to the complaint.
- Subsequently, four additional Boogaloo boys were charged with conspiracy to destroy evidence in the case, Jessie Alexander Rush, Robert Jesus Blancas, Simon Sage Ybarra and Kenny Matthew Miksch. The four pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obstruct justice by September 2021.
- In 2022, Carillo was convicted on federal charges of murder and attempted murder, and sentenced to 41 years imprisonment. As of June 2022, Carillo was still facing additional state charges for his crime spree.
- Las Vegas, Nevada, June 18: Stephen T. Parshall, 35, Andrew T. Lynam Jr., 23, and William L. Loomis, 40 were charged with "conspiracy to damage and destroy by fire and explosive, and possession of unregistered firearms — along with multiple terrorism-related state charges."
- Michael Robert Solomon and Benjamin Ryan Teeter, members of the Boogaloo boys, where charged with conspiring to provide material support to Hamas in exchange for funds, considered a terrorist group by most Western countries.
- Ivan Harrison Hunter, who claimed to be a member of Boogaloo boys, traveled from his home in Texas to Minneapolis after George Floyd’s death. He allegedly shot 13 AK-47 rounds at a police precinct building, shouting "Justice for Floyd!", then claimed on social media that he set fire to the police building.
- One alleged boogaloo boy was arrested in connection with the 2021 U.S. Capitol riot, Steven Thurlow. Several other boogaloo boys were alleged by the FBI to have been present at the riot. At least one of Ronald Sandlin, Nate DeGrave, and Josiah B. Colt were likely affiliated with the boogaloo boys. Colt pleaded guilty but denied he knew what boogaloo meant when Sandlin used the word. The three of them travelled cross-country together, armed with firearms, knives and body armor.
- Albuquerque, New Mexico, June 1st, 2021: Kaelan Ashby Dreyer, 20, who previously expressed boogaloo sympathies on Twitter, Was arrested and charged with battery for punching local Sheriff Manny Gonzales. After punching the sheriff, Dreyer shouted “He’s a Tyrant!” The incident also gained viral attention for a drone with a dildo attached to it that Dreyer flew towards the sheriff.
- Other incidents have been documented by the Anti-Defamation League.
The "Big igloo" patch worn by Steven Carillo when he was arrested; the middle stripe is supposed to be a Hawaiian flower motif
Hawaiian shirt (of poor quality) worn at the 2020 VCDL Lobby Day, a pro-gun rally in Richmond, Virginia
Man with skull mask (associated with Atomwaffen Division) and Hawaiian shirt at the 2020 United States anti-lockdown protests
- ↑ Although there is perhaps some logic in this: many ex-military members appear to be frustrated that the police are "over-militarized and under-trained."
- ↑ Group of guys from “Patriot Wave” which I had not heard of. They had badges and posters referencing the “Boogaloo” which is far-right speak for a civil war. They described themselves as shitposters by Tess Owen (9:41 AM - 20 Jan 2020) Twitter (archived from 21 Jan 2020 01:03:23 UTC).
- ↑ "The boogaloo movement is gaining momentum. Who are the boogaloo 'bois' and what do they want?" USA Today
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Far right extremists are hoping to turn the George Floyd protests into a new civil war" - Vice Magazine
- ↑ "Know Your Meme: Electric Boogaloo"
- ↑ "With Dance You Can Save the Community: The Enduring Inner City Utopia of Breakin’" by Stephen M. Deusner, Pitchfork, 2015 September 9
- ↑ Allmusic.com: Boogaloo genre description
- ↑ "Who Owns 'Boogaloo'?" by Jessica Lipsky, NPR, 2020 May 31
- ↑ "Pete Rodriguez - I Like It Like That", Youtube
- ↑ Pete Rodriguez - "I Like It Like That", lyrics to the song, as reported on Genius.com
- ↑ "James Brown boogaloo dance 1964", Youtube.com. The comments on Youtube and all evidence point to this clip being mislabeled. As Keith Allison is identified in the clip, the clip is most likely from the October 14 1966 episode of "Where the Action Is", an all James Brown show which ends with the instrumental "James Brown's BooGaLoo"
- ↑ "What We Know About Boogaloo, the Dance of the 1960s" by bluesyjune, Blues and Jazz Dance Book Club
- ↑ "The Boogaloo: Extremists’ New Slang Term for A Coming Civil War", ADL, 2019 November 26
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 13.6 "The Boogaloo Movement Is Not What You Think" by Robert Evans and Jason Wilson, Bellingcat, 2020 May 27
- ↑ 14.0 14.1 14.2 "Protesters across US attacked by cars driven into crowds and men with guns" by Jason Wilson, Guardian, 2020 Jun 9
- ↑ "What is the 'boogaloo'? How online calls for a violent uprising are hitting the mainstream by Brandy Zadrozny, NBC News, 2020 Feb 19
- ↑ "The Disturbing Appeal of Boogaloo Violence to Military Men" by Kelly Weill, Daily Beast, 2020 Jun 8
- ↑ 17.0 17.1 "Amid The Pandemic, U.S. Militia Groups Plot ‘The Boogaloo,’ AKA Civil War, On Facebook" by Christopher Mathias, Huffington Post, 2020 April 24
- ↑ Cyber Swarming, Memetic Warfare AND Viral Insurgency: How Domestic Militants Organize on Memes to Incite Violent Insurrection and Terror Against Government and Law Enforcement by Alex Goldenberg & Joel Finkelstein (2020) Network Contagion Research Institute, Rutgers University.
- ↑ 'I became unreasonable': Bloody message scrawled on car at Ben Lomond ambush: The words echo the Boogaloo sentiments reportedly held by Steven Carrillo (June 12, 2020 at 10:57 a.m. | UPDATED: June 12, 2020 at 11:19 a.m.) Reuters via The Mercury News.
- ↑ "Why some protesters in America wear Hawaiian shirt", Economist, 2020 May 23rd
- ↑ "How the Far-Right Boogaloo Movement Is Trying to Hijack Anti-Racist Protests for a Race War" by Mehdi Hasan, The Intercept, 2020 June 10
- ↑ "George Floyd protests: Who are Boogaloo Bois, antifa and Proud Boys?" by Shayan Sardarizadeh and Mike Wendling, BBC News, 2020 Jun 17
- ↑ See the Wikipedia article on George Floyd protests.
- ↑ "Column: While Trump blames antifa, a menacing far-right ‘boogaloo’ movement rises" by Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune, 2020 Jun 05
- ↑ "Federal Arrests Show No Sign That Antifa Plotted Protests" by Neil MacFarquhar, Alan Feuer and Adam Goldman, New York Times, 2020 June 12
- ↑ "Extremists Are Using Facebook to Organize for Civil War Amid Coronavirus", Tech Transparency Project, 2020 April 22
- ↑ "The 'Boogaloo' Started as a Racist Meme" by Cassie Miller, Southern Poverty Law Center, 2020 June 05
- ↑ "Inside the Boogaloos’ Facebook-to-Violence Pipeline" by Kelly Weill, Daily Beast, 2020 June 19
- ↑ "Facebook moves to limit the spread of boogaloo groups amid protests" by Joseph Menn, Reuters, 2020 June 4
- ↑ Boogaloo crackdown: Facebook bans movement, gives it same designation as hate groups and terrorists by Jessica Guynn, USA Today, 2020 June 30
- ↑ "Facebook Has Been Profiting From Boogaloo Ads Promoting Civil War And Unrest" by Ryan Mac and Caroline Haskins, Buzzfeed News, 2020 June 30
- ↑ "Man Linked To Boogaloo Movement Indicted In Texas", CBS DFW / AP, 2020 June 15
- ↑ "'Boogaloo Boy' Arrested in Texas, Charged With Plotting To Murder Cops on Facebook Live" by Hatewatch Staff, Southern Poverty Law Center, 2020 May 15
- ↑ 3 self-proclaimed members of the far-right 'boogaloo' movement were arrested on domestic terrorism charges for trying to spark violence during protests by Rosie Perper & Sonam Sheth (Jun 3, 2020, 7:07 PM) Business Insider.
- ↑ Prosecutors: 3 men plotted to terrorize Vegas protests by Michelle L. Price and Scott Sonner, Associated Press, 2020 June 3
- ↑ Second arrest of a ‘Boogaloo boy’ suspect made after violent Columbia demonstrations by Mike Fitts (Jun 5, 2020; Updated Jun 12, 2020) The Post an Courier.
- ↑ "Editorial: Right-wing extremist group ‘Boogaloo boys’ poses real threat during protests" by Editorial Staff, Post and Courier, 2020 Jun 10
- ↑ Alleged 'Boogaloo' extremist charged in killing of federal officer during George Floyd protest: Steven Carrillo and his alleged accomplice "came to Oakland to kill cops," said John Bennett, special agent in charge of the San Francisco division of the FBI. by Andrew Blankstein and Ben Collins (June 16, 2020, 1:12 PM PDT) NBC News.
- ↑ 4 alleged Boogaloo Bois charged with destroying evidence tied to deadly Oakland shootings last year by Michael Williams (April 9, 2021; Updated: April 9, 2021 8:14 p.m.) The San Francisco Chronicle.
- ↑ 4 California militia members plead guilty to conspiracy (Sep. 23, 2021) AP via SFGate.
- ↑ Steven Carrillo Sentenced to 41 Years in Prison for Murder and Attempted Murder for Role in Drive-By Shooting at Federal Courthouse in Oakland (June 3, 2022) United States Department of Justice.
- ↑ 3 held in Las Vegas on terror charges in right-wing conspiracy to spark violence during protests by Ed Komenda (published 3:33 p.m. PT June 3, 2020 | Updated 5:31 p.m. PT June 3, 2020) Reno Gazette Journal.
- ↑ Alleged Boogaloo members face terrorism charges in Minnesota by Amy Forliti (September 4, 2020 at 3:44 p.m. PDT) The Washington Post.
- ↑ Man linked to far-right ‘boogaloo bois’ charged after allegedly shooting at police precinct during Floyd protests by Holly Bailey (Oct. 23, 2020 at 2:36 p.m. PDT) The Washington Post.
- ↑ U.S. arrests more than a dozen in Capitol riot, among the most made public in a single day by Spencer S. Hsu & Rachel Weiner (June 30, 2021 at 4:57 p.m. PDT) The Washington Post.
- ↑ Man who dangled from Senate balcony pleads guilty in Capitol riots, will cooperate against others by Spencer S. Hsu (July 14, 2021; Updated July 15, 2021) The Washington Post.
- ↑ Did you actually watch Jimmy Dore’s interview? The whole point of Jimmy’s interview is to work with others on issues you agree on (this is what Fred Hampton was promoting). Jimmy is promoting #bottomunity Also the Boogaloo Boys are different from the Proud Boys by @banjobison (7:08 AM · Jan 25, 2021) Twitter (archived from September 24, 2021). banjobison's profile states, "Autistic Cowpoke, banjo playing cowboy-hipster, geolibertarian Yes I was that Dongcopter guy on the news (Kaelan Dreyer)"
- ↑ https://www.koat.com/amp/article/sheriff-manny-gonzales-punched-in-the-face-at-event/36601381
- ↑ https://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_60b8e52ee4b001ebd46ee39a
- ↑ Small But Vocal Array of Right Wing Extremists Appearing at Protests (June 10, 2020) Anti-Defamation League.
- ↑ The U.S. Military Has a Boogaloo Problem: Some of the largest private Facebook groups catering to the boogaloo movement have scores of members who identify as active-duty military. by Tess Owen (June 24, 2020, 11:14am) Vice.