If you've made it this far without hearing about the so-called "Boogaloo Bois," consider yourself extremely lucky.
And while the loosely organized network of gun-lovers may be erroneously presented by some as a harmless group to which attention should never be paid, social justice groups across the country have dedicated their platforms to calling out factions built on racist ideology (i.e. white nationalism, neo-Nazism, and other far-right tenets) and have made it crystal clear that the history of these "Boogaloo Bois" is quite troubling indeed.
Just this month, 32-year-old Steven Carrillo—an Air Force sergeant with Boogaloo connections who allegedly killed a federal security guard in Oakland during a social justice protest—was charged with first-degree murder of a person assisting an officer or employee of the United States. He was also charged by a federal grand jury with attempted murder.
Below, we've put together a quick rundown of key facts about these "Boogaloo Bois," a group which the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) recently pointed out as being often erroneously self-presented to the public as "straightforward libertarianism."
What is a "Boogaloo Boi"?
As SPLC's Cassie Miller notes, the "boogaloo" began as a racist meme. The meme started popping up "concurrently in anti-government and white power online spaces" back in the early 2010s and was often associated in both spaces with "racist violence." In many instances, "boogaloo" represented a direct call for a race war in some form or another. Additionally, the "boogaloo" term itself is an allusion to the 1984 movie Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo.
Another assessment defines "Boogaloo Bois" as being arguably divided into two different groups, one whose ideology is rooted in outright neo-Nazism and another whose beliefs are—as touched on above—presented as radical libertarianism. In other words, it's a bit of a clusterfuck in terms of clear messaging.
For a deeper take on the "boogaloo" meme's history with online racist communities, one should again consult the SPLC, which has cited damning appearances of the meme including on the neo-Nazi "Iron March" forum in 2013. Furthermore, the term has usage examples dating back to early 2012 on 4chan's weapons board, which "overlaps" with the infamously racist /pol/ board.
What do these "Boogaloo Bois" want?
In its current form, the "boogaloo" term is sometimes used by neo-Nazis and similar groups with a focus on thrusting modern society into outright chaos. The larger goal of such an aim, of course, is the development of a new state built on fascist ideas.
Devin Burghart, the executive director of the National Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, explained to USA Today earlier this month that appearances from "Boogaloo Bois" at recent protests around the country are part of that chaos obsession.
Per Burghart, these individuals see the unrest as "signaling the potential for an impending second civil war."
What, exactly, do these "Boogaloo Bois" do?
You may have seen photos of armed "Boogaloo Bois" in recent weeks, showing up in Hawaiian shirts to peaceful protests. Among their other recent activities are protests against partial lockdown measures put in place to contain COVID-19, as well as pro-gun demonstrations.
Nicholas Trutanich, the U.S. attorney for Nevada, condemned group members earlier this month when speaking on charges brought against three "Boogaloo Bois" in Las Vegas.
"Violent instigators have hijacked peaceful protests and demonstrations across the country, including Nevada, exploiting the real and legitimate outrage over Mr. Floyd's death for their own radical agendas," Trutanich said.
Earlier this month, SPLC estimated that over "roughly the last month," at least seven Boogaloo-associated men had been arrested for weapons possession and/or planning violent attacks. Arrests of this type have occurred in Nevada, Ohio, Texas, Colorado, and California.
What’s being done about these "Boogaloo Bois"?
As mentioned above, arrests and charges have come down on some members involved in acts of "boogaloo" violence. And as for an online presence, several companies have stepped up to hinder members' abilities to easily assemble. Facebook has banned use of the term "and related words" when accompanying photos of weapons. The social media site has also moved to limit the proliferation of "boogaloo" pages and groups by no longer recommending them, as well as demoting them in search results.
Similar actions have been taken by Discord and Reddit, with the latter having recently removed a subreddit following the publication of a Vice article from Tess Owen calling attention to threats and encouragement of violence.