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Policing The Boogaloo

by Robert Potter about a year ago in controversies

How a dangerous movement seeks a second Civil War.

Photo by Jay Rembert on Unsplash

think we’ve all privately wondered if America is really on the brink of a second Civil War. It’s a thought that at first blush sounds ridiculous and it is, but it’s also a durable one too, burrowing in the minds of Americans across the political spectrum. Any number of factors are attributable to the sheer magnitude of division that Americans perceive in the country today. Also Trump certainly isn’t helping things and although Joe Biden, to his credit, seems to be running on the promise to bring the country back together, pulling the country back from the brink will be a daunting task.

Because the idea of a second Civil War remains persistent. It creeps up every time Trump rails at an election that he says will be riddled with fraud, and it materializes again and again with each refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power. Case in point, the FBI recently thwarted a right-wing domestic terror plot to kidnap the governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, and potentially the Governor of Virginia as well, Ralph Northam. This summer protests swept the world in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by a group of police officers. Demands to tear down police departments across the country have only gotten stronger. There is no contesting the divisiveness that exists in this country, and if left alone, this powder keg will blow.

That being said, I firmly believe that most Americans aren’t looking for another Civil War, even most people on the right don’t want that. Nevertheless, that hasn’t stopped far-right militias from trying to turn that Civil War dream into a reality.

Enter: the Boogaloo Movement, a radicalized group of mostly white men that not only believe a second Civil War in America is coming but are committed to doing whatever they can to make that day come quicker. They claim that civil war against an oppressive government is inevitable so they figure what harm is there in hurrying that day along.

Perhaps fittingly, according to The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the Boogaloo movement gets its origins from a racist meme. They write, “The boogaloo meme itself emerged concurrently in antigovernment and white power online spaces in the early 2010s. In both of these communities, “boogaloo” was frequently associated with racist violence and, in many cases, was an explicit call for race war. Today the term is regularly deployed by white nationalists and neo-Nazis who want to see society descend into chaos so that they can come to power and build a new fascist state.

Since 2019 over thirty people associated with the movement have been arrested on a variety of charges including murdering law enforcement officers, using explosives to destroy government buildings, possession of unregistered firearms, inciting riots, making terroristic threats, offering to be hired as mercenaries to a senior member of Hamas, who later was revealed to be an undercover FBI agent.

Just last month an FBI report was leaked to Ken Klippestein at The Nation titled “Boogaloo Adherents Likely Increasing Anti-Government Violent Rhetoric and Activities, Increasing Domestic Violent Extremist Threat in the FBI Dallas Area of Responsibility.” Ken writes, “[the report] warns of the threat posed by the far-right militia group known as the “Boogaloos… The document points to several catalysts for the rise in the group’s membership, including resentment over perceived government overreach embodied by the Covid-19 shutdown and the presidential election.

Serious stuff. This of course is in sharp contrast to Trump’s constant railing against Antifa protestors, labeling them as terrorists, and demonizing them as the biggest threat America is currently facing right now. Throughout the summer, Trump rarely if ever mentioned The Boogaloo Movement, instead choosing to focus all his efforts on scapegoating the Black Lives Matter as Antifa, marking them as dangerous threats to society.

Now we know that any real or imagined threat of Antifa pales in comparison to far-right activity taken over the last year. Ken continues by saying that, “the same day that Trump announced his intention to designate 'Antifa' a terrorist group, the FBI’s Washington Field Office was unable to find any evidence of antifa involvement in the violence. However, in July, The Nation reported that the US intelligence community was tracking a ‘potential threat to law enforcement’ from the Boogaloos. While antifa groups have engaged in acts of property destruction and sometimes violence, a recent study published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies found that anti-fascist groups have not been involved in a single murder in the United States in the past 25 years.

Moral of the story: Trump has been lying this whole time, and in many ways, he has encouraged and emboldened supporters of far-right ideology. The Proud Boys, another far-right movement linked to several acts of violence, saw its membership surge when Trump “denounced” white supremacy at the first presidential debate a few weeks ago. A Proud Boy member just a few days ago claimed there could be a second Civil War if Trump loses the election.

I’m not saying there will be a Civil War, but the rhetoric is at a point where it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility. That fact is a huge red flag, and one that cannot be left unaddressed. Backing ourselves away from the cliff must be our number one priority.


Robert Potter

Manages a twice-a-week newsletter about the future of video games. I will try to keep my excitement about NFTs to a minimum. No promises, though.

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