Meanwhile, actual outsiders increasingly identified as white supremacists by authorities have been arrested as they embedded themselves in demonstrations to cause chaos and attack police in order to get African Americans blamed and cause a race war.
The FBI on May 27 warned, “A white supremacist Telegram channel incited followers to engage in violence by shooting in a crowd,” and a May 29 memo from the Department of Homeland Security to law enforcement said extremist groups could try to exploit protests.
Even U.S. Attorney General William Barr – who with President Trump has accused anti-fascist activists with causing damage despite the FBI saying there’s no evidence of antifa involvement – on June 4 conceded, “There’s some groups that want to bring about a civil war, the Boogaloo group that has been on the margin.”
There have been other hooligans, too. Peoria (with a jobless rate of 19.3%, the city reports) suffered some looting and property damage, causing some businesses to board up windows as a precaution as well as reaction, although reported arsons were more dangerous. A Black Peorian faces federal charges of trying to incite riots here via Facebook posts, and a white man from Galesburg was arrested for allegedly looting and rioting in Minneapolis and Chicago.
However, rallies have been overwhelmingly nonviolent, and mayhem seems to have faded or be confined to nighttime. Maybe neo-Nazis or boneheads got bored, tired or scared after all the impressive protests and some arrests for the pillaging. Or maybe they prefer the dark, like predators.
Still, recognition of infiltrators was strengthened by the May 30 arrests of three men in Nevada for domestic terrorism. Authorities charged them with being “Boogaloo Boys” conspiring to use explosives to cause damage. The far-Right Boogaloo Boys mobilize adherents online to target demonstrations, protesters or police. (The Galesburg man, incidentally, probably isn’t a BB; he just dislikes police, his family told the Sun-Times.)
“They’re seeking to co-opt these recent protest movements to further their own objective, and the objective is to promote sedition and civil war,” said Alex Goldenberg, author of a National Contagion Research Institute (NCRI) report on extremists provoking violent insurrection against government and law enforcement. The BB want “to incite an apocalyptic confrontation with law enforcement and government officials or to provoke ethnic warfare,” according to the report.
That Right-wing uprising may have an uphill battle. On June 1, a Morning Consult poll showed 54% of Americans support the protests, and three days later an ABC News/Ipsos poll said 74% of us agree that Floyd’s killing reflects systemic racism in policing. Protesters with legitimate grievances have struggled to minimize the bedlam despite a few infiltrators trying to create and exploit disorder.
Besides incidents of looting, vandalism and violence in Arkansas, Idaho and North Carolina, in Cleveland, Los Angeles and Portland, police arrested such Right-wingers in Denver and Nashville. In Pittsburgh, a white man smashed a police car; suspected Boogaloos beat a TV reporter in Philadelphia and Black demonstrators in Minneapolis; Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison cited a white man wearing a gas mask carrying an umbrella breaking windows at an Autozone there; MSNBC’s Joy Reid reported that white nationalists posted messages to use protests to “get our loot on;” and BET posted 18 videos of destruction by whites that Black people could be blamed for.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said she feared blacks would be blamed, commenting, “It is striking how many of the people who were doing the looting and stealing and the fires were young white males.”
Meanwhile, Black Live Matter Global Network founder Alicia Garza asked, “Why is there no state of emergency around white nationalists trying to create chaos?”
Paul Goldenberg, a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council, said the NCRI report was “a wake-up call.
“When you have people talking about and planning sedition and violence against minorities, police and public officials, we need to take their words seriously,” he said.