Boogaloo Movement Update: Violence, Schisms, and Bans
| by Alex Newhouse and Nate Gunesch
Last week, CTEC published an investigation into the Boogaloo Movement, showing that Boogaloo adherents often possess a wide array of extreme-right beliefs.  Since then, Boogalooers have shown up with increasing frequency at protests across the country, and their profile and reputation have subsequently grown. Movement supporters’ actions and statements make it clear that they hope to use the protests to promote their own extreme right-libertarian, anti-government agenda. More concerningly, at least six supporters of the Boogaloo Movement have been arrested for either plotting violent actions or committing violence.
These events, in addition to increased tension in online spaces between “moderate” Boogalooers and explicit accelerationists, indicate that the Boogaloo Movement does not promote the same civil and police reform goals as Black Lives Matter or antifascist activists. Further, the arrests are the first indication that at least two years of explicit anti-government radicalization likely cannot be undone by a few moderating administrators, and adherents of the Boogaloo Movement will continue to pose a significant threat for the foreseeable future.
Since the Black Lives Matter protests began last month, law enforcement officials have arrested a number of Boogalooers. The first high-profile instance of law enforcement action against Boogalooers occurred on May 30 in Las Vegas, when three men were charged with “conspiracy to cause destruction.”  The men had brought Molotov cocktails to a protest, which they planned to use to cause confusion and incite violence.
There have been several arrests and property seizures of Boogaloo Movement adherents in other states, as well. In South Carolina, two men were arrested—in separate incidents—for inciting crowds to riot, and police officials alleged that both are members of the Boogaloo Movement.  While it is unclear which Boogaloo communities these two men frequented, police officials released an image of a Hawaiian shirt, a shirt with the Boogaloo flag emblazoned on it, and a hat with a patch that states “Boojahideens for Liberty,” and claimed that these items belonged to Kevin Ackley, the second man to be arrested. The first man, Joshua Barnard, was pictured in a Hawaiian shirt and arrested for looting, larceny, and instigating a riot. A week later, on June 5, Barnard was re-arrested on charges of sexual exploitation of a minor. 
In Denver, CO, police seized an arsenal of weapons and body armor from two men who had shown up at a Black Lives Matter protest. One of them, Chevy McGee, holds vehement anti-police beliefs and is part of the Boogaloo Movement.  A Boogalooer and bodybuilder in Dallas was also arrested on suspicion of running an illegal steroids distribution ring.  Also in Texas, a grand jury indicted a Boogalooer arrested in April for attempted murder of a police officer. The man, Aaron Swenson, had been threatening to ambush and shoot police on a Facebook Live video and was found wearing body armor and with loaded guns in his car. 
The most significant instance of Boogaloo violence occurred on June 6, when Steven Carrillo ambushed police officers and led them on a police chase near Santa Cruz, CA. During the chase, Carrillo detonated a pipe bomb and shot and killed a sheriff. Before being arrested, he wrote “boog,” as well as “I became unreasonable” and “Stop the duopoly” in blood on the hood of the car he hijacked.  The phrase “I became unreasonable” originated with Marvin Heemeyer, known as the “Killdozer” among Boogaloo and far-right groups, who went on a destructive rampage with an armored bulldozer in Granby, CO, in 2004. “Stop the duoply,” meanwhile, is popular among fring groups to criticize the two-party system in American politics. In addition to these messages, a former friend noted that Carrillo’s social media accounts regularly referenced the Boogaloo movement. Carrillo is also suspected of killing another police officer in Oakland on May 29. 
Boogalooers continue to show up at these protests; likewise, they continue to pay close attention on Facebook to the potential for impending violence. Analysts and experts have suggested that, in spite of vocal solidarity with Black Lives Matter activists, their appearance at protests is opportunistic and designed to further their own right-wing anti-government goals.  The Intercept called it an effort to “hijack” the anti-racist protests. 
Indeed, the recent arrests indicate a greater interest in inciting anti-government violence, rather than standing with Black Lives Matter and promoting police reform. This manifests in a tension within the extreme libertarian wing of the movement, which organizes primarily on Facebook. The string of arrests, as well as in-depth profiles of the Boogaloo Movement such as CTEC’s and Bellingcat’s , have clearly increased the attention paid to Boogaloo communities that have organized on social networks. Facebook has removed several large Boogaloo communities in the past two weeks, including Boojahideen Memes, Boojahideen Memes 2, Only Fed Memes, Thicc Boog Line, and others. Other communities remain live on Facebook, and CTEC review showed that many of these are run by admins who have condemned racism and anti-LGBTQ bigotry, walked back pro-civil war rhetoric, or have not been active recently. [12, 13, 14, 15] According to a report from Reuters, Facebook is now preventing recommendations for other Boogaloo groups.  Facebook has also said that it has specifically targeted groups and pages that Steven Carrillo and his accomplice had joined or liked. 
The Book of Boogalations is a smaller page, with only around 1,000 likes, and administrators have increased the frequency and directness of anti-racist statements, apparently in an attempt to avoid suspension. On June 9, for instance, an administrator posted the image below, which has been recently shared on several pages (including some that have since been deleted).  Attempts from administrators to reshape and redirect the libertarian wing of the Boogaloo Movement from its origins in right-wing, pro-civil war radicalization, however, have met limited success. Comments on the Book of Boogalations’ post, for instance, are very negative, with some commenters demeaning the post as “woke nonsense” and others insulting antifascists and Black Lives Matter activists. 
This is just one example demonstrating the growing schism in the libertarian wing of the Boogaloo Movement. While some supporters, including the administrators of several large Facebook pages, hope to keep the movement focused specifically on pro-Second Amendment activism and demonstrations, the movement originally evolved specifically around an idea of an imminent armed revolt, revolution, or civil war. Up until the protests, the Boogaloo Movement largely involved talking strategy about how best to take down police officers and government officials while celebrating anti-government violence such as the Timothy McVeigh bombing.
On 4chan, and especially on /k/ where the meme and movement began, frequent posters have begun lamenting the increased profile and coverage given to the Boogaloo in recent weeks. As often happens, 4chan users turned on their own creation as it expanded beyond the bounds of their message boards and became known to the wider public. In one thread posted on June 18, users argued that the Boogaloo Movement has been corrupted by “board tourists” (i.e. non-/k/ 4chan users), Facebook pages, and the media.  The arrests of Boogalooers as well as examples of “embarrassing” Boogalooers showing up at protests without masks or with bad loadouts (i.e. weapons and gear) have also caused many /k/ users to believe that the Boogaloo Movement was always a government-run psyop. Frequent allegations that Boogalooers and related pages “glow” (i.e. are government efforts to trick extremists into revealing plans for violence or other crimes) indicate the prevalence of this growing conspiracy theory. [21, 22, 23, 24, 25]
As the movement’s most public communities attempt to survive in the face of increasing enforcement, this tension will continue to grow, and has already caused its 4chan birthplaces to disown and insult it. However, the string of arrests and even violence carried about by Boogalooers suggest that this rhetorical pivot cannot reverse several years of accelerationist radicalization. Many adherents of the movement have spent months or years considering, discussing, and becoming desensitized to inciting violence against the government. This level of radicalization creates the possibility that more individuals like the men in Las Vegas and Santa Cruz may undertake action in the coming months.