Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.
The Boogaloo Bois have a new martyr.
His name is Eric Allport, and he was killed by federal agents during a shootout in the parking lot of a Texas Roadhouse near Detroit over the weekend.
Details about Allport’s death are still a little fuzzy, but the FBI said that the 43-year-old opened fire while they were executing an arrest warrant for a federal weapons offense on Friday afternoon.
One agent was hit by gunfire but survived. The shooting is still under investigation, but in his initial remarks, special agent in charge of the FBI Detroit field office Steven D’Antuono suggested that Allport had fired first. “It’s always stressful and concerning when one of our agents gets shot,” he told the Detroit Free Press. “We’re trying to effect a lawful arrest and this is what happens.”
The scenario—whereby federal agents’ attempt to enforce a federal gun law results in a gunfight—is the exact scenario that’s played out in the collective imagination of the anti-government “Boogaloo Boi” movement. And since news of Allport’s death rippled through Boogaloo networks, many prominent accounts have claimed him as their own.
“Well, the feds have done it again, this time killing Eric Mark-Matthew Allport,” Mike Dunn, a self-avowed Boogaloo Boi and militia organizer in Virginia, said in a YouTube video posted Monday. “As far as I know, he was a Boogaloo Boi. He embodied our ideology, our beliefs, he lived with liberty in his mind and they killed him.”
The Boogaloo is memespeak for a civil war or violent uprising. This year, the meme made its way offline and became a rallying point for a loose collection of hardline libertarians, shitposters, and a few white supremacists who started showing up to protests around the country wearing Hawaiian shirts and carrying AR-style rifles.
Today the Boogaloo movement is a sprawling, decentralized network that encompasses local chapters that orchestrate real-world meet-ups and training.
Screenshots from an Instagram account linked to Allport, which has since been taken down, include references to the Boogaloo movement. He also posted memes on Facebook containing vague threats about what would happen if someone came to try and take his weapons.
“He was a member of the b.0.0.g community and believed in individual freedoms much like many of us,” one person wrote on Instagram. “Myself and many others have resigned ourselves to know that our own fates will be similar to Eric’s. That one day people will come for us because we wish to live our own lives without their rule.”
“I didn’t know him personally but knew him second hand. He was someone who shared a lot of similar ideals as many of us in the community and was an influential member for many,” Instagram user @Markofdaboog, who posted the above image, told VICE News. “It’s a real shame to have another one in our community be taken from us, let alone someone as impactful as he was.”
Allport’s fate is somewhat similar to that of 21-year-old Duncan Lemp, who police shot and killed in Maryland in March during a no-knock raid. Police said they obtained a search warrant after they got a tip that Lemp was in illegal possession of firearms. Lemp, who was apparently known in anti-government circles online, quickly became a martyr in the then-burgeoning Boogaloo movement.
“They’ve already started taking us out one at a time,” Dunn added in his Youtube video. “You should be locked and loaded and ready to face off with tyranny. I sleep with a firearm every night because I know sooner or later it’s gonna come to me.”
Allport moved to Madison Heights, in a suburb of Detroit, about six years ago and opened a business that trained K9 dogs to work in drug detection and facilitated dog training inmate programs with prisons, Detroit News reported. Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman told Detroit News that Allport had a 2003 conviction for receiving and concealing stolen property, concealed weapons and aggravated assault.
The Boogaloo Bois are a relatively new movement, but they’ve already been linked to several acts or plots of violence.
In May, an Air Force Staff Sgt. with ties to the Boogaloo movement gunned down a federal security officer in Oakland, California. Three men who allegedly met on Boogaloo Facebook pages were arrested and accused of planning to throw explosives into a Black Lives Matter protest in Las Vegas to sow chaos and spark a gunfight with police.
More recently, two self-styled Boogaloo Bois were slapped with criminal charges for allegedly trying to sell weapons to the Palestinian militant group Hamas.