Amid the turmoil and tumult of our times, people and things are increasingly not as they appear. This phenomenon equally applies to public perceptions about who is responsible for many of the violent acts on our streets, as well as to a president whose mantra is “law and order.”
Neither those public perceptions nor the president’s assertions are proving true. In fact, recent law enforcement efforts help cut through our clouded assumptions about which groups pose the greatest threats. Recent events highlight how a self-proclaimed “pro-police” president actually makes it harder for law enforcement to do their job.
Recent events highlight how a self-proclaimed “pro-police” president actually makes it harder for law enforcement to do their job.
In a federal legal complaint made public Oct. 23, a member of the Boogaloo Bois was charged with shooting an AK-47 style assault weapon into the Minneapolis Police Department’s third precinct building on May 28, while people were inside. The man shot 13 rounds at the south Minneapolis police headquarters and shouted “Justice for Floyd” as he ran away, wearing a skull mask and tactical gear,. He also looted and helped set the building ablaze, according to the charging document. Repairing that damage will reportedly cost as much as $10 million. The shooter was identified as 26-year-old Ivan Harrison Hunter from Boerne, Texas, and has also been charged with one count of interstate travel to incite a riot for his alleged role in ramping up violence during the protests in Minneapolis on May 27 and 28 following the death of George Floyd.
Federal charges against a member of a growing domestic extremist group for a devastating attack on a police precinct would merit national news coverage even if there were no additional context. But the charging document tells us more than just the details of the alleged offense. This arrest, along with others like it, confirms that our most senior federal government leaders, including Attorney General William Barr, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, who is accused by a whistleblower of suppressing the role of white supremacy as a violent threat, and who claims he is working with the attorney general to bring charges against antifa and Black Lives Matter, and President Donald Trump, have been either willfully ignorant or deliberately deceitful in pinning much of the highest profile violence following the Floyd killing on the far-left. Further, these charges signal that police and prosecutors are having to do their work despite the spin and disinformation spewing from these political partisans.
Hunter was not with antifa or BLM. He wasn’t seeking “justice for Floyd” — or anyone, for that matter. Rather, as a member of the boogaloo movement, Hunter was part of a loosely organized, often far-right, pro-gun, anti-government, violent extremist ideology. Sometimes described as a militia, and often possessing disparate beliefs and motives, boogaloo members tend to have at least one overarching belief: They claim they are preparing for, and are even seeking to bring about, another civil war, or “boogaloo.” Two hours after the police precinct was set on fire, Hunter texted with another Boogaloo member in California, a man named Steven Carrillo. Carrillo was an Air Force sergeant from California who was later charged with fatally shooting a federal protective service officer in Oakland on May 29 and a Santa Cruz County sheriff’s deputy a week later.
“Go for police buildings,” Hunter told Carrillo, according to the charging documents. Carrillo killed Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller, critically injured another deputy and threw pipe bombs at police on June 6.
Just four days after the FBI disrupted a violent militia plan to kidnap the governor of Michigan and attack a police station and police officers, FBI agents were in a shootout with a man suspected of Boogaloo Bois connections who was wanted on weapons charges. An FBI agent was shot and wounded, and the suspect was killed. In June, the FBI arrested three Boogaloo Bois who appeared to be planning to firebomb a U.S. park ranger station in Nevada. In May, Denver police seized multiple high-powered assault weapons from Boogaloo Bois during a traffic stop at a protest.
Law enforcement at local, county, state, and federal levels have their hands full just keeping up with the growth of violent and white supremacist hate groups, from far right-wing extremists to violent militias to QAnon.
Law enforcement at local, county, state and federal levels have their hands full just keeping up with the growth of various violent and white supremacist hate groups, from far right-wing extremists to violent militias to QAnon; the boogaloo movement, the Proud Boys, and others. FBI Director Christopher Wray has publicly stated that violent domestic groups now pose a threat equal to foreign terrorism. Yet, Trump’s consistent reluctance to strongly and unambiguously denounce such organizations and ideologies only serves to signal his tacit support and to embolden them, as was the case with his response during the first presidential debate to a question about hate-based groups like the Proud Boys. During a town hall in Miami hosted by NBC News, Trump feigned ignorance of the dangerous far-right conspiracy group QAnon except for one element — that they are “against pedophilia.” Trump’s response wasn’t ignorant; it was a carefully crafted legitimizing of the group by claiming it happens to be against something that everyone disdains.
While those with unlawful intentions only need to succeed once to pull off a violent attack, the police need to get it right every time. The odds are against the good guys. And those odds are made worse by a president and his administration that suppress and even lie about where the threat is coming from.