Anti-government protesters say they are organising a massive day of action in the United States, with many purporting to be part of a secretive movement called the Boogaloo, or Boogaloo Bois.
Activists have told Daily Star Online they’re not a far-right movement, as they’re critics claim, but openly say they want to overthrow the US government.
Some even call for a “Second US Civil War,” as they say they’re linking up with Black Lives Matter activists and anti-coronavirus lockdown groups to form a broader coalition.
The origins of the Boogaloo movement are difficult to pin down, counter-terrorism analyst Javed Ali told Daily Star Online.
Speaking from the US, he said the origins of the movement date back to the early 2010s, but have some of their ideological roots in earlier anti-government or overtly far-right groups from the 1990s.
Recognised by their distinctive Hawaiian shirts and iconography full of memes, such as Pepe the Frog, a number of gun-toting “Boogaloo Bois” have been spotted at recent BLM demonstrations appearing to show their support for the movement.
Although some of the movement’s members’ far-right views might be seen as being at odds with those of Black Lives Matter, Ali says it makes sense when you consider their shared anti-government stance.
“The coronavirus crisis and Black Lives Matter protests are both inspiring debates in the US about government overreach,” Ali said.
“This anti-government philosophy is first and foremost what the movement is about.”
The name Boogaloo comes from the 1980s breakdancing film Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, Ali explained.
Over the past decade, forums such as 4Chan and 8Chan would share memes and jokes about a “Civil War 2”, rhyming with Boogaloo.
Filled with inside jokes and references, the posts would often make it difficult to see where the line was between trolling and real intentions.
Big Luau, code for a revolution or civil war, was also used by some members of the forums.
But as Ali explained, the movement’s lack of a core set of beliefs makes it extremely difficult to be certain of what they want.
Although momentum for the movement online picked up in the middle of the last decade, Ali says it has accelerated since the election of US President Donald Trump.
Supporters are a mix of Second Amendment gun rights activists, anti-government protesters, libertarians and some far-right white supremacists.
Their origins can be found in some of the touchstone anti-government events of the 80s and 90s, including the Ruby Ridge siege, the deadly Oklahoma City bombing and the siege at Waco, Texas, with memes referencing all of these widely shared online.
Speaking to Daily Star Online, supporters of the movement shared their own beliefs and reasons for support.
One, who asked to remain anonymous, called the Boogaloo “a revolution taking place in Americans’ hearts”.
They denied the group was far-right, saying they are “pro-capitalism,” adding: “We do not discriminate. We welcome people of all colours, races, sexual orientation and creeds.”
The supporter went on: “We are not trying to exploit the BLM movement, but rather we support their right to free speech.”
They also slammed the lockdowns taken by state governments in response to the Covid-19 health crisis, saying: “It’s up to the individual to be responsible for their health.”
Another supporter, calling themselves Virginia Knight, told Daily Star Online: “The Boogaloo movement doesn’t have any set main goal but we have many goals throughout our movement including recognising the injustice that many cops cause civilians while also respecting many.
“We also believe that a revolution will take place sooner or later as we had one with Great Britain in 1775 and the government will be replaced with a cleaner fresher model.”
They added: “We also hope to raise awareness to the fact that there are many of us likeminded people who are armed to the teeth and believe in freedom.”
On the link to Black Lives Matter protests, they went on: “Many people scream racism when they see an armed white man because the thing the government fears most is unity among the armed white man and the armed black man.
“We strive to bring about that unity.”
A third supporter, who spoke to the Daily Star under the condition of anonymity, described himself as “the son of a single Hispanic mother born in the United States from Hispanic immigrants and Native Northern Americans”.
He called this year’s July 4th a major milestone in his country’s history, and said ordinary people were becoming aware of the widespread oppression carried out by a “brainwashed militarised police force”.
The supporter went on: “The 4th of July is our supposed holiday of freedom and I know more Americans than ever are questioning said freedoms.”
He also said growing public anger had grown since the death of Jeffrey Epstein and many powerful people’s alleged connections to the convicted paedophile.
“People have wanted to say that we’re far-right when in actuality we lie in the centre of the political spectrum,” he said.
“Recently far-right groups have been angry with us because we’ve chosen not to side with them and have been offering BLM protesters protections from these groups.
“Black Lives Matter have been fighting for a lot of the same things as us before us and it’s important that we protect people exercising their rights.”
But Javed Ali maintains most of the movement’s members’ beliefs “tend to align with the far-right”.
He says if this year’s July 4 protests by the Boogaloo Bois remain peaceful, there is unlikely to be a crackdown, but the FBI will issue Homeland Security Bulletins if not.
Last month, a US Air Force sergeant Steven Carillo with alleged links to the Boogaloo movement was arrested following the murder of a federal security officer.
David Patrick Underwood was shot in an ambush outside the courthouse in Oakland, California during Black Lives Matter protests in the city.
The FBI claims Carillo used his own blood to write various phrases on the bonnet of a stolen car, including “boog” and “stop the duopoly”, referring to America’s two-party system.
Earlier in June, three men with ties to the Boogaloo movement and the US military were arrested in Las Vegas and charged with “conspiracy to cause destruction” over allegations they aimed to used Molotov cocktails on police officers during protests in the city following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.