The specter of white supremacists surreptitiously participating in protests surrounding the death of George Floyd, the black man killed in the custody of Minneapolis police last week, became more substantive than earlier vague rumors when Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Saturday told reporters that neo-Nazis—along with members of Mexican drug cartels—appear to be involved in inflaming the violent riots that have struck Minneapolis, as well as other cities around the country.
“The situation in Minneapolis is no longer in any way about the murder of George Floyd,” Walz said today. “It is about attacking civil society, instilling fear and disrupting our great cities.”
“We have seen things like white supremacist organizers posting on platforms about coming to Minnesota,” Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said at the same press conference, adding that a potential connection to organized crime is also being investigated.
Harrington added that white nationalists are posting messages on social media, according to Joy Reid, that urge fellow extremists to go to Minneapolis to “get our loot on” and create mayhem. He told reporters that authorities will investigate people attempting to use public outrage over Floyd’s death as a “cover” for illegal activity.
Walz told reporters he was aware of rumors that white supremacists were involved in some of the looting surrounding the protests and that “based on my suspicions and what I've seen on this,” he found them credible.
"It gets worse than that," he added. "The cartels, who are wondering if there was a break in their drug transmissions, are trying to take advantage of the chaos. That's why this situation is on a federal level.
"Walz and other officials also claimed that 80 percent of the rioters were from out of state.
“Those folks who are agitating and inciting are taking advantage of the pain, of the hurt, of the frustration, of the anger, of the very real and legitimate sadness that so many of our community members feel, to advocate for the destruction of our communities,” St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter said.
Suspicions were initially fueled in part by videos shared on social media that appeared to show masked white men engaging in violent destruction, and ignoring black protesters who attempt to get them to stop. One video in particular showed a masked man carrying an umbrella while smashing windows at a Minneapolis auto-parts store, then running away when confronted about the behavior by black protesters. The store was later burned down.
The behavior initially aroused claims that the man was a police officer in disguise, creating mayhem that could be blamed on protesters, and one widely shared tweet appeared to identify him as a Minneapolis police officer. However, police said that the identified officer was not the person in the video, and he had an airtight alibi: “We spoke with his supervisor, who was with him. We spoke to his colleagues, who were with him,” said Steve Linders, public information officer for the St. Paul Police Department.
White supremacists and other extremists have been talking among themselves on social media about how best to exploit the racial tension arising from the Floyd killing, which they see as creating an extremely fragile situation in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, they see their long-simmering hopes for a race war coming to fruition.
The most active discussion has come among so-called “Boogaloo Bois,” the pro-Trump civil war enthusiasts who have been leveraging anti-stay-home-order protests into recruitment and agitation opportunities. A number of “Boogaloo” pages on Facebook have featured memes indicating solidarity with black protesters, since many of the participants in the movement are mainly interested in opposing police operations and law enforcement.
The “Boogaloo Ranch” Facebook page featured a meme showing the office building that houses the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, urging protesters to target it as “part of a banking cartel that is the primary source of oppression in the United States … and they have money!” Elsewhere, the same page includes a post listing the locations of all the anti-police protests currently taking place.
Some “Boogaloo” enthusiasts took photos of themselves in Minneapolis with black protesters, as Jordan Green reported at Raw Story. However, a fellow participant in the Big Igloo Bois thread on Discord warned: “This is not the time for boog, this is how a race war starts.”
“It’s a right-wing thing; it’s a neo-fascist thing,” warned veteran antifacsist Daryle Lamont Jenkins in a Twitter video. “And they’re trying to use what’s happening in Minneapolis as a jump-off. Do not let them. They are not our friends.”
Republished with permission from Daily Kos.