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Facebook bans, removes hundreds of far-right ‘boogaloo’ groups

By GOPAL RATNAM | CQ-Roll Call | Published: July 1, 2020

WASHINGTON (Tribune Content Agency) — Facebook said Tuesday it was banning and removing 220 accounts from its platform as well as dozens of accounts from Instagram that are part of a loose, “violent U.S.-based anti-government network” that calls itself the “boogaloo” movement.

The company said it had removed 95 Instagram accounts, 28 pages and 106 groups that currently are part of the network. Another 400 groups and 100 other pages on Facebook also were removed for violating the company’s policies on dangerous and violent content, the company said.

“This network appears to be based across various locations” in the United States, “and the people within it engage with one another on our platform,” Facebook said in a blog post. “It is actively promoting violence against civilians, law enforcement and government officials and institutions. Members of this network seek to recruit others within the broader boogaloo movement, sharing the same content online and adopting the same offline appearance as others in the movement to do so.”

The network of groups and individuals falls under Facebook’s designation of dangerous individuals and organizations policy, the company said. Facebook also owns Instagram and WhatsApp.

Facebook said it had been tracking activities of such groups since 2012 and had been “closely following its development” since 2019. It noted that some of the participants in a January gun-rights rally in Richmond, Va., “wore the outfit now typical for boogaloo adherents and we have since tracked the movement’s expansion as participants engage at various protests and rallies across the country.”

Many adherents of the movement appear at gun rights events wearing Hawaiian shirts while carrying assault rifles and handguns. The term boogaloo emerged from a 1984 movie, “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo,” that then became part of jokes about Civil War 2: Electric Boogaloo, according to the Anti-Defamation League, which tracks hate groups.

ADL has said that the term boogaloo has become shorthand for a future civil war with pro-gun activists, white supremacists and other militia groups coming together to battle law enforcement and government agencies.

The FBI recently arrested individuals who have been affiliated with the movement and linked to violent clashes and even the death of police officers.

Earlier this month the FBI said it had arrested Air Force Sgt. Steven Carrillo and charged him in the murder of a federal security officer, Dave Patrick Underwood, in Oakland, Calif. The FBI said that Carillo had specifically posted on Facebook groups calling for fellow militants to use the civil rights protests in the wake of George Floyd’s killing by the Minneapolis police to launch attacks against police.

Facebook said it was not the company’s first action against the boogaloo movement, and that it had removed 800 posts during the past two months for violating the platform’s rules against posting violent content.

Facebook and other social media platforms joined hands to block and remove terror content on their platforms in the aftermath of the March 2019 terrorist attack at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, that left 51 people dead and dozens more injured. The shooter livestreamed his attack on Facebook.

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