A boogaloo reading list
The Informant compiles a list of articles and reports you should read if you want to get up to speed on this emerging extremist movement.
Hi, and welcome to The Informant, a publication covering hate and extremism in America, written and edited by me, Nick R. Martin.
Today I’m returning with a favorite feature for some of you: an intelligence briefing. When I first launched The Informant in January, I was putting out two of these a week, which was part of what led to my burnout. Now I’m going to try one a week for a while and see how it goes.
If you appreciate the work, be sure to share this with a friend or colleague and encourage them to subscribe to The Informant. Thank you.
A boogaloo reading list
— WHAT TO READ… The so-called “boogaloo” movement is still in its infancy and still evolving. It’s also steeped in meme culture and inside jokes. So it’s OK if you don’t yet understand all the references to “big igloos” and Aloha shirts. But if you want to get up to speed on this emerging extremist movement, which has been tied to the killings of a law enforcement officer and a federal security guard, I’ve compiled a list of things you should read.
These articles and reports cover the field, from explaining what the movement is to exploring some of the tactics its adherents have employed to co-opt peaceful Black Lives Matter protests and instigate violence. The list is far from comprehensive, but it’s a good start.
“The Boogaloo: Extremists’ New Slang Term for A Coming Civil War” (Anti-Defamation League) Published in November, this was one of the earliest looks at how extremists, including white supremacists and members of the militia movement, were increasingly embracing the term “boogaloo” as a shorthand for a coming Civil War in the United States. “The rise of ‘boogaloo,’ and its casual acceptance of future mass violence, is disturbing,” the report said. “Among some extremists, it may even signify an increased willingness to engage in violence.”
“The Boogaloo Movement Is Not What You Think” (Bellingcat) The most nuanced and detailed look at the movement to date, this report noted that boogaloo culture was not broadly racist by itself but that violence was very much embedded in its DNA. “As we have observed, some members rail against police shootings of African Americans, and praise black nationalist self defense groups,” the report said. “But the materials also demonstrate that however irony-drenched it may appear to be, this is a movement actively preparing for armed confrontation with law enforcement, and anyone else who would restrict their expansive understanding of the right to bear arms.”
“Cyber Swarming, Memetic Warfare and Viral Insurgency: How Domestic Militants Organize on Memes to Incite Violent Insurrection and Terror Against Government and Law Enforcement” (Network Contaigen Research Institute) The authors of this report went to great lengths to map out how the boogaloo movement and its memes were exploding on social media platforms, including Facebook. In the end, they offered this blunt assessment: “Memetic warfare is still very much a mystery to both policy makers and officials working within the American law enforcement community. In this ignorance, the worst actors amongst boogaloo groups possess a distinct advantage over government officials and law enforcement: They already realize that they are at war. Public servants cannot afford to remain ignorant of this subject because as sites, followers and activists grow in number, memes can reach a critical threshold and tipping point, beyond which they can suddenly saturate and mainstream across entire cultures.”
“‘Calling Me A Nazi Is Racial Profiling’ — Inside Boogaloo Public Relations” (Left Coast Right Watch) This piece was based around a document leaked from an online boogaloo group, and it showed how adherents of the movement sought to co-opt and attach themselves to the Black Lives Matter protests as a way of furthering their own cause. The document coached adherents this way, for instance: “Using right-wing or libertarian talking points will not likely resonate with them. Remember, they believe these protests are about BLACK lives. Avoid saying ‘All Lives Matter’ or projecting any similar message.”
“Intel report warns that far-right extremists may target Washington, D.C.” (Politico) Leaked documents from government agencies showed that federal law enforcement was sounding the alarm about the boogaloo movement as of mid-June. One senior DHS official added a note to one of intelligence assessments: “While it identifies Washington D.C. as an attractive target, the boogaloo ideology is not restricted to a specific region and those who wish to cause division are routinely using peaceful protests as means of cover.”
“The U.S. Military Has a Boogaloo Problem” (Vice) Published in late June, this report found that members of online communities dedicated to the boogaloo movement were self-identifying as active duty members of the military. “The U.S. military appears to have a brewing boogaloo problem,” the report said. “Active-duty military are flocking to online networks frequented by the anti-government movement, known for its meme culture and Hawaiian shirt-clad adherents, who are often called Boogaloo Bois.”
Also on my radar…
— NEW INDICTMENT… A federal grand jury today returned a new indictment against Patrick Crusius, 21, who allegedly killed 23 people and wounded many others last year in a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. The indictment confirmed that Crusius wrote a manifesto before the shooting that was based on the racist “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory, which supposes Hispanic immigrants are replacing white people in the U.S. Crusius is charged with 45 hate crimes in addition to 45 more charges that he used a gun in commission of the crime. The charges carry the possibility of the death penalty.
— NEXT WEEK… John Cameron Denton, the one-time leader of the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division who went by the nickname “Rape,” appears set to plead guilty in a federal case in which he’s been charged with carrying out “swatting” attacks on journalists who were investigating him. No information is available on the plea, but court records show he’s set to have a plea agreement hearing at 10:30 a.m. ET on Tuesday in Alexandria, Virginia.
— NEO-NAZI WANTS OUT OF JAIL… Matthew Paul Slatzer, a member of the neo-Nazi group the National Socialist Movement, asked a judge this week to let him out of jail while he awaits trial on a federal weapons charge. Slatzer is perhaps best known as the man who showed up to an “Open Ohio” rally in April with a sign calling Jews “the real plague.” I wrote about his lengthy criminal record, including a separate recent arrest, last month in an article co-published with The Daily Beast. Federal prosecutors responded today by noting that, in addition to his criminal history, Slatzer has a history of failing to appear for court appearances. A federal judge will decide the matter at a later date.
Related: Local law enforcement gets $122,000 to buy riot gear ahead of a possible march by the National Socialist Movement on July 18 in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
— FACEBOOK FAILS TO END BOYCOTT… Facebook executives, including founder Mark Zuckerberg, met on Tuesday with organizers of the “Stop Hate For Profit” advertising boycott. It did not go well. The civil rights groups leading the campaign released a public statement afterwards making it clear they were unhappy with what Zuckerberg and other executives said during the meeting and that the boycott would continue. Major brands like Coca-Cola, Unilever, and Boeing have joined with hundreds of other companies to pause advertising on Facebook for the month of July.
— WELL DESERVED… Four U.S. journalists who were threatened and harassed by hate groups in retaliation for their reporting received a medal last week from the Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) organization. Three of those journalists were targeted by the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division while the fourth was targeted by the Proud Boys. The medal is named after the late journalist Don Bolles, who was killed in 1976 car bombing in retaliation for his work. The journalists who received the medal are:
Leonard Pitts Jr., a syndicated columnist who was the victim of a “swatting” attack by Atomwaffen.
A.C. Thompson, a ProPublica journalist who was also the victim of swatting by Atomwaffen.
Chris Ingalls of KING-TV in Seattle was forced to leave his house with his family on the advice of federal authorities, who had learned Atomwaffen members planned to visit him at home. He later received a threatening flyer in the mail from Atomwaffen.
Jeremy Jojola of KUSA-TV in Denver, whose house was targeted by the Proud Boys after he reported on them and other local extremist groups.
— CAUGHT BY THE INFORMANT… “Rep. Paul Gosar gets caught in Prescott cozying up to a hate group member” (Arizona Republic)
— PRESIDENTIAL BOOGALOO… “Libertarian 2020 candidate appears on podcast tied to ‘boogaloo’ movement” (The Guardian)
Correction, July 17: This briefing has been updated to reflect that the boogaloo movement has been tied to the killings of a law enforcement officer and a federal security guard. A previous version incorrectly described the victims as two members of law enforcement.
Like The Informant and want to help make it even better? Give me feedback, point out factual errors or typos, or send me news tips. Reach me at email@example.com.