[News] Amid The Pandemic, U.S. Militia Groups Plot ‘The Boogaloo,’ AKA Civil War, On Facebook

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Sat Apr 25 12:17:58 EDT 2020


https://www.huffpost.com/entry/boogaloo-facebook-pages-coronavirus-militia-group-extremists_n_5ea3072bc5b6d376358eba98
Amid
The Pandemic, U.S. Militia Groups Plot ‘The Boogaloo,’ AKA Civil War, On
Facebook
April 24, 2020
------------------------------

Thousands of armed right-wing militants are plotting a violent uprising
against the U.S. government during the coronavirus crisis, a new report
finds, and Facebook <https://www.huffpost.com/impact/topic/facebook> is
providing them a platform to prepare and organize.

A report
<https://www.techtransparencyproject.org/articles/extremists-are-using-facebook-to-organize-for-civil-war-amid-coronavirus>
published Thursday by the watchdog group the Tech Transparency Project
found 125 Facebook groups devoted to the idea of the “boogaloo
<https://www.adl.org/blog/the-boogaloo-extremists-new-slang-term-for-a-coming-civil-war>,”
a far-right term used to describe what they believe is an inevitable civil
war in the U.S. Members discuss weapons, combat medicine, and how to
develop explosives, the report says. One group even shared a document
detailing how to disrupt U.S. government supply lines and discussing the
possible need to assassinate government officials.

These groups have proliferated during the pandemic, according to the
report, as right-wing extremists grow more agitated
<https://www.huffpost.com/entry/extremists-anti-shutdown-protests_n_5ea057f6c5b6b2e5b83b55cd>
over lockdown orders aimed at slowing the spread of the virus, measures
many militia and “patriot” groups
<https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/ideology/antigovernment>
view as the oppressive maneuverings of a tyrannical government.

Over 60% of the groups were created in just the last three months,
according to the report. The 125 groups have nearly 73,000 members, though
it’s unclear how many individuals may belong to multiple groups.

About 50% of the groups’ members have joined within the last 30 days.

The groups have flourished despite Facebook community guidelines that
prohibit <https://www.facebook.com/communitystandards/credible_violence>
facilitating, organizing or promoting “harmful activities targeted at
people.” The guidelines also ban “statements of intent to commit
high-severity violence.”

Daniel E. Stevens, executive director of Campaign for Accountability, the
umbrella organization under which TTP operates, told HuffPost in a
statement Thursday that “Facebook’s failure to stop their platform from
being used as an organizing tool for extremists is completely
unacceptable.”

“There is nothing subtle about how these extremist groups are using
Facebook’s platform to advance their cause,” Stevens said. “Boogaloo
proponents are not simply discussing ideas or political views; they are
directly advocating for violent action and tactically planning how to
defeat government entities.”
[image: There are 125 anti-government extremist groups on Facebook devoted
to the "boogaloo," a far-right term for what they believe] [image: A meme
posted to the Facebook page of a group devoted to the “boogaloo,” a
far-right term used to describe a coming civil war]

In a statement to HuffPost Thursday, a Facebook spokesperson claimed the
company is aware of the boogaloo groups.

“We’ve removed groups and Pages who’ve used this and related terms for
violating our policies,” the spokesperson said.

None of the handful of boogaloo groups specifically named in TTP’s report
summary had been taken down as of Friday morning.

“We’re reviewing the content referenced in this report and will enforce
against any violations,” the Facebook spokesperson said.

The potential for real-world violence by these groups came into focus
earlier this week, when an Arkansas boogaloo enthusiast named Aaron Swenson
<https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/emmanuelfelton/boogaloo-boy-arrested-texarkana-swenson>
live-streamed himself on Facebook driving around Texarkana, Texas,
allegedly looking for a police officer to shoot and kill.

Comments left on the livestream showed some users endorsing attacking
police officers. Other users suggested people call 911. Swenson was
eventually arrested, according
<https://www.facebook.com/texarkanapolice/posts/2831460176909180?__tn__=-R>
to the local police department.

A review of his Facebook page by TTP found that he “liked” over a dozen
boogaloo pages, including a prominent boogaloo page called the Thicc Boog
Line.
[image: A series of extremist Facebook pages "liked" by Aaron Swenson, who
was arrested for allegedly attempting to attack police off]

After HuffPost’s inquiry Thursday, Facebook appears to have removed
Swenson’s profile page.

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Facebook studies and monitors new terms, including boogaloo, which
extremists may use to mask their activities, the Facebook spokesperson
insisted, adding that the company has 350 people on staff devoted to
stopping people and organizations from using its platform to plot or engage
in violence.

The pandemic is proving to be a fraught period for the social media giant,
as it struggles to slow the spread of misinformation about the virus that
could put people in danger.

Facebook recently banned
<https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/apr/20/facebook-anti-lockdown-protests-bans>
some pages and posts promoting anti-lockdown protests
<https://www.huffpost.com/entry/extremists-anti-shutdown-protests_n_5ea057f6c5b6b2e5b83b55cd>
in California, New Jersey and Nebraska that defied “government’s guidance
on social distancing.”

Many such protests, however, have still been organized on the platform,
resulting in crowds of right-wingers not observing social distancing
guidelines descending upon government buildings, demanding that lawmakers
reopen local and state economies despite the desperate warnings of public
health experts.

TTP also infiltrated private boogaloo groups on Facebook where pages
promoting anti-lockdown events were shared and attendance was encouraged,
including a page for an April 24 protest in Wisconsin.

Heavily armed militiamen, some of whom have carried boogaloo signs or worn
boogaloo patches
<https://www.adl.org/blog/extremists-involved-in-nationwide-protests-against-coronavirus-restrictions>,
have appeared at previous anti-lockdown rallies.

“This is not a case of extremists outsmarting Facebook,” Stevens, of
the Campaign
for Accountability, told HuffPost in his statement. “By allowing these
pages to exist, Facebook is demonstrating a clear unwillingness to protect
the public from possible domestic terrorists. Unless Facebook takes
substantive action to break up these dangerous online communities, there is
a very real risk of violence spilling out into the streets.”
[image: A screengrab from one of the "boogaloo" groups.]

The boogaloo groups are part of a larger anti-government extremist movement
<https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/ideology/antigovernment>
in the U.S., which includes militia and “patriot” organizations such as the
Oathkeepers and the Three Percenters, whose adherents have been implicated
in bombings
<https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2017/06/27/mcveigh-worship-new-extremist-trend>,
murders
<https://www.huffpost.com/entry/las-vegas-shooting-suspects_n_5472883>
and armed
standoffs <https://www.huffpost.com/topic/malheur-national-wildlife-refuge>
with federal law enforcement.

There is sometimes overlap between anti-government and white supremacist
movements. TTP’s analysis of the boogaloo groups found that some members’
profiles include white supremacist content, including images of Adolf
Hitler. Many other group members, however, claimed to reject white
supremacist ideology.

TTP says it identified the 125 groups in its report by searching for
different variations or abbreviations of “boogaloo,” such as “boog,” “big
igloo,” “Big Luau,” and “boojihadeen.”

One group, “BoojieBastards: Intelligence and Surveillance,” has averaged
100 new members a day since its creation in February, and now boasts some
6,500 followers.

The largest group, the Thicc Boog Line, has gained about 30,000 followers
since its creation in October 2019. Its main page is public and is often
used to hawk boogaloo-branded clothing and accessories. The Thicc Boog Line
also operates 11 private boogaloo groups that more explicitly discuss
preparing for the coming civil war.

About 89% of the groups identified in TTP’s report, or 112, are set to
private. Many take their war preparations so seriously that members are
banned from posting memes, so as the discussion stays focused on
intelligence sharing.

“The groups engage in national-level coordination or act as state and local
chapters where users share tactical information and survival tips, ranging
from topographic map access to instructions for evading authorities,” the
report states.

Perhaps most concerning are the planning documents members upload to the
boogaloo groups which, according to TTP, include military manuals, a CIA
handbook, and “The Anarchist Cookbook,” a famous bomb building guide.

Another alarming, 133-page document entitled “Yeetalonians” spells out what
weapons should be used for the boogaloo and instructs members how to
develop propaganda to win over others to their cause.
[image: A screenshot from “Yeetalonians,” which spells out
what weapons should be used for the boogaloo.]

The document discusses how “national guard depots, police stations and
factories that produce munitions are all very solid targets” for disrupting
the U.S. government supply chain.

It emphasizes to members that it’s deeply important “to make the enemy
(government forces) see that they are not fighting terrorists, they are
fighting their own countrymen who simply love liberty.”

The “Yeetalonian” document also mentions “target selection,” arguing that
while assassinations of public officials and figureheads are often
“overrated” as a military strategy, “some people have to go.”
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