The United States is about to enter the third week of protests over the killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, by Minneapolis police officers. The protests, which started on May 26 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, have now spread to cities across the US and have largely dominated news coverage since they began.
There are many elements to the protests, from the involvement of a left-wing group known as Antifa to possible violence committed by white supremacists, but trying to determine the degree to which outside agitators are involved in the events currently taking place throughout the country is no easy task.
“The truth is, nobody really knows,” said Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison. “There’s been a lot of videotape taken by demonstrators of people who are very suspicious … there have been photographs of cars with no license plates. Very suspicious behavior.”
One of the groups alleged to be playing a part in the protests is the Boogaloo Boys (or “Bois”) – a self-identified libertarian movement critical of government and government overreach. Their posts, circulated on social media, have been alleged to encourage violence against the government, though the group’s members say such posts are not to be taken seriously.
Satire that goes too far?
Like many movements in this day and age, the Boogaloo movement started on social media where it has thrived through the widespread sharing of satirical anti-government memes.
The movement is most identifiable in its use of bright Hawaiian prints and igloos. Other symbols commonly featured in their posts, such as Pepe the Frog, are also frequently used by those on the far-right.
While the posts are largely satirical, the Network Contagion Research Institute believes the use of satire can be dangerous if it’s ambiguous in its support of violence. The institute’s February report on Cyberswarming, Memetic Warfare and Viral Insurgency states, “This ambiguity is a key feature of the problem: Like a virus hiding from the immune system, the use of comical-meme language permits the network to organize violence secretly behind a mirage of inside jokes and plausible deniability. Evolving threats, from this vantage, can emerge all at once, undetected and with no top-down organization at all.”
One post shared on the Big Igloo Bois Facebook page pictures a collage of several government buildings with the words, “You are burning down all of the wrong buildings.” The post’s comments range from jokes about the inclusion of NASA headquarters to justifications for the Minneapolis Target being burned down because they allegedly donated to the Minneapolis Police Department’s 3rd Precinct.
Big Igloo Bois
The Big Igloo Bois Facebook page, the largest of its kind, has nearly 31,000 followers. To get a better look at the movement and understand the group’s motivations, The Millennial Source spoke with two of the page’s administrators, Oldmin (Old Admin) and Trashmin (Trash Admin), about why they got involved in the movement and what it means to them.
“A lot of people look at the boog as a one time event. For us it is a philosophy, it is acknowledging the violence of the police state. It is acknowledging that individual liberty is for ALL people without exception,” Oldmin says.
Oldmin says he began the page as a way to share funny memes.
“Over time I realized that I’d been given a voice. So I started using that voice in an attempt to try to bring solidarity to our fractious society. I have tried to use this platform as a means to preach peaceful means of resolving our differences and of addressing our increasingly eroding rights.”
Trashmin and Oldmin believe that most people have misconceptions about the group.
“We’ve been pegged as far right/alt right whatever but that’s as laughable as the other misconceptions. I’m a voluntaryist but the movement is populated by all types,” Trashmin says.
Both men believe Boogaloos have been falsely painted as violent or extremist.
“For now, speaking up and standing our ground is our only recourse to effect change, we don’t want things to get violent to achieve that, I’d live for mere words and memes to do it,” Trashmin says.
Oldmin adds that violent conflict is not his goal.
“No one wants a civil war. My kids are 11 and 17. Since they’ve been born the US has been at war. At some point it has to end.”
Boogaloo protesters have also been seen in cities across the country protesting the killing of George Floyd. They have been spotted waving boogaloo flags and holding signs that read, “Liberty for all” and “No more racist police.”
USA Today reporter Natalie Neysa Alund tweeted this photo of an armed man wearing a “Taskforce Igloo” patch who claimed to be there to protect protesters.
Boogaloo Ranch, a Facebook page which has since been taken down, posted this picture Saturday of The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. The picture was shared at least 27 times before being taken down. While no specific call to action was given, the building is labeled as “part of the banking cartel that is the primary source of oppression in the United States,” adding, “They have money!!!”
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