divided states

Who are the Boogaloo Bois and what do they want?

Clutching rifles and wearing Hawaiian shirts, they’ve shown up at Black Lives Matter rallies and anti-lockdown demonstrations. Are they far-left or far-right? Is this mysterious group a meme that’s gone too far? Or is this a serious attempt to provoke a second civil war? Holly Baxter reports

Thursday 11 March 2021 09:18
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A Booglaoo Boi during the Red Flag Law Protest near Capitol Square in Richmond, Virginia, earlier this month
A Booglaoo Boi during the Red Flag Law Protest near Capitol Square in Richmond, Virginia, earlier this month

Men in Hawaiian shirts with rifles strapped to their chests march through Michigan, demanding an end to the lockdown. A young person carrying a black and white flag bearing an igloo and a palm tree gets shot by a rubber bullet at a Black Lives Matter protest in Wisconsin. An army private and self-declared “traitor against the United States” pleads guilty to sharing classified military information with a satanic neo-Nazi group in a bid to get his own troops being killed in an ambush. A 14-year-old boy and his mother killed by US marshals during an 11-day siege in Idaho. What connects these incidents?

If you’re to believe a smattering of headlines and some well-placed experts, it could well be the Boogaloo Bois, a group that may or may not be right-wing and may or may not be violent extremists hell-bent on provoking civil war, depending who you talk to. Why are they seen at Black Lives Matter marches shouting about equality as well as at anti-lockdown protests, clutching rifles and wearing American flag bandanas? Why are Boogaloo tactics familiar to extremism experts, while others claim they are little more than glorified Doomsday preppers with an enthusiasm for military fatigues? What happens when you track down a Boogaloo Boi and ask him those questions yourself?

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