The Boogaloo Bois are bringing Hawaiian shirts, AR-15s — and now, apparently, explosives — to anti-racism protests across the country.
Three of these new right-wing anti-government extremists were arrested by federal authorities in Las Vegas on Thursday, accused of trying to spark violence at the protests there for their own gain.
Now this congressman wants to know what, exactly, the Department of Homeland Security is doing about it.
Rep. Max Rose, Democrat from New York, sent a letter to DHS asking that they conduct a specific threat assessment of the Boogaloo movement “and any potential violent threats that they may pose in order to ensure that state and local partners are informed and aware.”
“While not surprising, it’s sickening that these right-wing extremists are seeking to hijack this moment of national pain and trauma to incite violence and terror,” Rose told VICE News in a statement. “Thankfully the three men associated with the Boogaloo movement in Las Vegas have been arrested — but we need more answers as to the greater threats posed by this movement.”
Boogaloo is code for a violent uprising or civil war. It’s not exactly a formalized group but more of an ideology that’s pulled in hard-line libertarians, anti-government extremists, online shitposters and some white nationalists. They reject the notion that they’re racist and have tried to position themselves as allies to Black Lives Matter due to their shared opposition to law enforcement.
However, Boogaloo Bois — who are overwhelmingly white — reject the fact that police brutality disproportionately impacts communities of color. What’s more, they’re looking to co-opt the protest movement for their own gain, which is sparking a civil war.
That was particularly clear from the arrests in Las Vegas.
Federal investigators in Nevada started looking into Stephen Parshall, 35, Andrew Lynam Jr., 23, and William Loomis, 40, after they received a tip in early April. Their tipster later became their informant, and went to meet Parshall and Lynam at a ReOpen Nevada rally around that time. They were heavily armed, and the informant recalled that they bragged about their group and how their ultimate goal was to overthrow the U.S. government.
On a separate occasion, during a hike, they talked about their plans in a little more detail: they wanted to target power plants or ranger stations, according to the complaint.
They continued to show up to future ReOpen Nevada rallies, heavily armed. Around mid-May, they came up with a plan modeled on tactics used by the Irish Republican Army , federal prosecutors say. They would set off fireworks, or other explosives, at the next ReOpen protest on May 16, in order to create a confusing and chaotic scene, and bait law enforcement and other attendees into opening fire.
When May rolled around, the suspects went to the protest armed to their teeth, and with smoke canisters. An FBI undercover employee was also present. Parshall, sensing that he was being watched by police, backed off the plan.
In late May, they met Loomis, who was eager to get involved. According to the complaint, Loomis had been affiliated with other militia groups but left due to their “inactivity.” They continued to scout possible targets, up until May 28, when protests broke out across the country following the death of a black man at the hand of a white police officer in Minneapolis.
Lynam told the other men to watch the protests closely, as it could afford them an opportunity to take action. They wanted to blow up the fee station at Lake Mead national park, with the goal of sparking further unrest and rioting in Las Vegas.
They attended protests, heavily armed, the following day. Federal prosecutors said the taunted police officers, and that Parshall was “very upset that protests were not turning violent.” Parshall was also trying to goad other protesters into taking violent action, arguing that “peaceful protests don’t accomplish anything.”
The next day they brought molotov cocktails to the protest. While they were preparing their explosives, FBI came in and arrested them.
There have been other examples of “boogaloo bois” getting arrested or apprehended by police at the protests.
On May 30 in Denver, Colorado, police briefly detained a 20-year-old a self-described Boogaloo Boi near a protest and seized his cache of guns, including several military-grade assault rifles.
And on Monday night, police in Chattanooga, Tennessee, arrested a man who was armed with an AR-15 and several magazines at a protest. According to the Times Free Press, the man who was arrested had posted about Boogaloo on social media earlier.
Cover: 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. (Photo: LOGAN CYRUS/AFP via Getty Images)