Three “Boogaloo Bois” had big plans for Saturday in Las Vegas. They stopped off at a gas station en route to an anti-police protest over the death of George Floyd, and filled up a gas can. They had begun making the Molotov cocktails they intended to launch into the crowd of protesters when they suddenly found themselves surrounded and arrested.
The men, all with military backgrounds and a devotion to far-right “Boogaloo” memes, were charged Wednesday by federal authorities with plotting to attack the protest in order to further their hope for a civil/race war, Nevada U.S. Attorney Nicholas Trutanich announced.
“Violent instigators have hijacked peaceful protests and demonstrations across the country, including Nevada, exploiting the real and legitimate outrage over Mr. Floyd’s death for their own radical agendas,” Trutanich said. “Law enforcement is focused on keeping violence and destruction from interfering with free public expression and threatening lives.”
The men—Stephen T. Parshall, 35, a former Navy enlistee; Andrew T. Lynam Jr., 23, an Army reservist; and William L. Loomis, 40, a former Air Force enlistee—are being held on $1 million bond each in the Clark County jail, according to court records. Parshall and Loomis are from Las Vegas while Lynam hails from suburban Henderson.
The arrests are further evidence that far-right extremists are working overtime to heighten racial tensions and encourage a race war by infiltrating and working in the background of the Floyd protests to wreak havoc.
The incident is also the latest in a series of situations in which these Boogaloo Bois have been arrested to prevent them from committing planned acts of mass violence. In Colorado, a white man planning to attend an anti-pandemic-orders protest was found to have built an arsenal of pipe bombs in his home. In Ohio, a white man who wanted to ambush police at a national park and livestream it on Facebook was arrested by the FBI. In Tennessee, a Black man carrying an AR-15 to a planned Chattanooga police protest June 2 was arrested en route to a demonstration; he had posted on Facebook about his enthusiasm for the Boogaloo as an opportunity for Black militants.
The three Las Vegas men appear to have been dedicated white nationalists. A report by the Tech Transparency Project (TTP) found that all three had participated in far-right Boogaloo pages; Parshall’s Facebook profile includes “multiple photos associated with white supremacist ideologies, such as a swastika, the Confederate flag, and the flag of ‘kekistan,’” while his profile cover photo features text that states: “Before inspiration, comes the slaughter.”
According to the complaint filed in the case, federal authorities had become aware of the men’s activities and plans through a confidential informant who had met Lynam and Parshall at a Las Vegas rally in early April calling for the reopening of the state’s economy. They were carrying weapons. Lynam told the informant that the group “was not for joking around and that it was for people who wanted to violently overthrow the United States government.”
The informant met up with all three men on May 27, the complaint says. Parshall and Loomis “discussed causing an incident to incite chaos and possibly a riot” during the Floyd protests. The informant also said that Loomis stated he wanted to firebomb a power substation.
The next day, Lynam urged his cohorts to watch televised reports of the protests and associated violence and use them for momentum to take other actions. These included possibly taking action against a fee station at Lake Mead on federal land north of the Hoover Dam, as well as another U.S. Forest Service ranger station that had earned their ire.
Parshall and Loomis’ “idea behind the explosion was to hopefully create civil unrest and rioting throughout Las Vegas,” according to the informant.
The TTP report noted that it had zeroed in on Facebook’s inaction in a previous report about the shared Boogaloo fantasy. The arrests, the TTP notes in its current report, “illustrate the consequences of Facebook’s repeated failure to remove extremist groups from its platform, even when confronted with concrete evidence they were using it to plan violent acts.”
The TTP found that the Nevada Boogaloo Facebook group in which all three men participated was only the beginning. Its research shows Lynam belongs to two private Boogaloo groups operated by the popular Facebook page Thicc Boog Line. It also found Lynam had used a national-level Boogaloo group to promote his Las Vegas-focused branch three weeks before the arrests, part of an effort to recruit local members; he was an administrative user for the Nevada group named “Battle Born Igloo.”
Facebook, TTP found, took no action against the groups. For the past year the company has claimed that it would strictly enforce the community guidelines that prohibit facilitating, organizing, or promoting “harmful activities targeted at people” and “statements of intent to commit high-severity violence.”
Facebook responded to the earlier TTP report by telling Christopher Mathias at HuffPost that it was working to remove the pages the report had identified, and was “reviewing the content referenced in this report and will enforce against any violations.” However, TTP notes, “none of the groups TTP monitored, including the Nevada group, were removed.”
“The complaint shows that Facebook’s failure to disrupt the Boogaloo groups allowed members to continue planning and developing new tactics, including bomb-making strategies spelled out in a 133-page manifesto still being circulated on Facebook today,” the report observes.
Posted with permission of Daily Kos