Far-right extremists are showing up, with guns, to the protests against police brutality that have exploded across the country.
Others are egging on the violence from behind their computers, urging followers to carry out acts of violence against black protesters with the goal of sparking a “race war.”
Their presence makes an uneasy addition to the escalating unrest, which was triggered by the death of George Floyd, a black man who was choked to death by a white Minneapolis police officer earlier this week.
But there’s a range of motivations that’s driving far-right interest toward the protests, which are being led by community members and Black Lives Matter, and bolstered by antifascists.
For example, the so-called Boogaloo Bois — a group of armed anti-government extremists made visible by their Hawaiian shirts — have reportedly shown up to some of the protests.
The “boogaloo” is code for impending civil war or violent confrontation with law enforcement, and that’s what they’re hoping to get out of the protests. Their main reason for being there is their antipathy toward law enforcement, and so they’re trying to position themselves as allies of Black Lives Matter protesters. They’ve made police brutality one of their central issues, which was explored at length in a Bellingcat article this week.
Their approach to police brutality links the victims of the deadly standoff with federal agents at Ruby Ridge in 1992, to the victims of modern police brutality, including Floyd. But unlike the vast majority of protesters, they refuse to acknowledge the fact that police brutality is an issue that disproportionately impacts people of color.
There have been scattered reports of Boogaloo Bois’ presence at the protests, which were compiled by a Bellingcat investigative journalist in a thread. He includes an audio clip (stripped of video per activists’ requests) of protesters saying they’d wrestled a handgun from a “white nationalist” agitator — whom he describes as a Boogaloo Boi who became overly rowdy.