Air Force sergeant allegedly linked to ‘Boogaloo’ movement charged with killing federal cop amid BLM protests

Officials said Staff Sergeant Steven Carrillo was associated with the “Boogaloo” movement that wants another Civil War. He was charged with the fatal drive-by shooting of security officer David Patrick Underwood

                            Air Force sergeant allegedly linked to ‘Boogaloo’ movement charged with killing federal cop amid BLM protests
Steven Carrillo (Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office)

On Tuesday, June 16, the word “boogaloo” was trending on Twitter with more than 65,000 tweets. For those who don’t know, it has nothing to do with the 1965 Tom and Jerrio song of the same name. It also doesn’t refer to the form of freestyle street dancing that popped up around the ‘60s. The word now has an insidious meaning attached to it.

According to the Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI), an independent nonprofit of scientists and engineers tracking misinformation and hate speech across social media, “boogaloo” is being used by people who want another Civil War.

Adherents of "boogaloo" are largely anti-government with no particular unifying political ideology. The term, however, has been co-opted by the far-right. Not everyone under the "boogaloo" umbrella, however, identifies with white supremacy. 

The term is supposedly a joking reference to the 1984 dance film, ‘Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo’, and originated in 4chan. Reportedly, on January 18, at the Virginia Citizens Defense League's annual Lobby Day in Richmond, a group of protesters from the group called Patriot Wave wore “Pepe the Frog” (another insidious white supremacist meme) patches emblazoned with “Boogaloo Boys”.

So, why is “boogaloo” trending now?

On Tuesday, June 16, federal prosecutors reportedly charged an Air Force sergeant with murder and attempted murder in connection with the killing of a federal security officer in downtown Oakland, California, on May 29. Staff Sergeant Steven Carrillo, who was also charged last week with killing a Santa Cruz County sheriff deputy, was charged with the fatal drive-by shooting of federal security officer David Patrick Underwood. Another officer was injured in the shooting.

The officials claimed that Carrillo was associated with the “boogaloo” movement, and took advantage of a Black Lives Matter protest in the city on the same day as a cover for the killing.

“We believe Carrillo and Robert Alvin Justus Jr. [chose] this date, because the planned protest in Oakland, provided an opportunity for them to target multiple law enforcement personnel and avoid apprehension to the large crowds attending the demonstrations, as described in detail in the complaint,” said John Bennett, an FBI special agent.

“These arrests are an important step for our community, the families of those who were killed in the line of duty, and our law enforcement partners, so that we may begin the healing process,” Bennett further said. “While we cannot bring Officer Pat Underwood and Sergeant Damon Gutzwiller back, we can hold those responsible for taking them from us accountable.”

On Twitter, Vox journalist David Roberts wrote, “Right-wing ‘boogaloo’ lunatics who want to start a race war are canceling people, only not in the ‘say mean things about them on Twitter’ way, but in the ‘shoot and kill them’ way. Maybe once everyone's done scolding SJWs we could spend some time on this?”

Many also pointed out how the Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death were blamed for Underwood’s death. In a “boogaloo” Facebook group, prior to the attack, Carrillo allegedly wrote: “Go to the riots and support our own cause. Show them the real targets. Use their anger to fuel our fire. Think outside the box. We have mobs of angry people to use to our advantage.”

Journalist Issac Saul, responding to Charlie Kirk’s June 1 tweet blaming the BLM, wrote, “Hi Charlie! It turns out Patrick Underwood was killed by two far-right men from the Boogaloo group who used the protests as cover for their violence against police. One of the men was a former Air Force sergeant. I'm looking forward to your correction!”

Lis Power of Media Matters noted, “A Boogaloo extremist has been charged with Dave Patrick Underwood's murder. Tucker Carlson and other Fox figures frequently mentioned Underwood's killing as proof that protests were violent. ‘Victims of the Riots’ read one graphic on Tucker Carlson's show.”

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