Armed boogaloo boys gather at Michigan Capitol, join small group of protesters
Armed with guns, tactical gear and floral clothing, a handful of self-identified “boogaloo boys” staged a protest outside the Capitol in Lansing, under the surveillance of the Michigan National Guard and Police.
Timothy Teagan, 22, said the Jan. 17 event had been planned for weeks, but most attendees withdrew after an FBI bulletin was announced warning that groups were planning to storm them. state capitals across the country. About twenty members of the “boogaloo” movement answered questions from the media and stayed around the Capitol lawn for a few hours before leaving without incident.
Researchers who track down extremist groups describe the “boogaloo boys” as a weakly affiliated network of activists united in their contempt for the government and a sense that the United States is heading into a violent civil war.
By 1:30 p.m. Sunday, most of the group identifying themselves as “boogaloo boys” had left the State Capitol. Only a small group of protesters remained. Michigan State Police Lt. Michael Shaw said no arrests took place on Sunday.
Michigan State Police stepped up security at the State Capitol last week after a mob broke into the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to overturn the presidential election. The FBI is coordinating with local police to respond to threats related to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on January 20.
The Michigan legislature will not meet next week due to “credible threats” of violence. The legislature closed the day after the January 6 riots in Washington, DC due to a bomb threat and threats, also shut down legislative offices when Michigan voters voted for Biden on December 14, 2020.
Teagan, who carried an AR-15 and six ammunition magazines on his chest, said the rally was intended to create a forum for people from all political backgrounds to discuss their views.
“We don’t want a civil war at all,” Teagan said. “I would like to see a peaceful revolution, peaceful keyword. I don’t want to see the bloodshed in my country. I don’t want to see our cities torn apart and set on fire and people dead. I think one of the best ways to do this is to stand up for the rights of everyone, whether you agree with them or not. “
Still, Teagan said members of the boogaloo movement saw the civil war “encroaching on inevitability.”
Within a block, National Guard armored vehicles were parked in a queue on the west side of the Capitol building. Michigan State Police uniformed soldiers patrolled the downtown streets, and at least two helicopters could be seen flying overhead.
Shaw said the increased police presence was accompanied by other “invisible measures” around downtown Lansing.
Several other people at the event declined to share their names with MLive reporters. Some said they were contacted by the FBI before Sunday.
Erick Spencer, a 49-year-old Ingham County resident, is not associated with the Boogaloo group. It was a Trump supporter who traveled to Capitol Hill to attend the protest, which he said gave people the opportunity to falsely label Republicans “violent criminals and terrorists.”
“They reversed the scenario,” Spencer said. “It is not appropriate to storm the Capitol or businesses and set buildings on fire. This is not why we have been the democratic country.
Spencer said the Jan. 6 event was staged and “it wasn’t the president’s speech that prompted him because it was going to happen anyway.”
The lack of protesters surprised Spencer, who said people might think it was an organization of far-left groups. He places himself at the center of the political spectrum, although he supports Trump. Spencer doesn’t think recent events will have an impact on the number of people supporting the Republican Party.
“You’re not going to get your point across when you act violently,” Spencer said. “I didn’t come here for a militia rally, I’m not interested because it’s just a show of armed force that won’t solve anything until you get into a civil war.
Another Michigan-based boogaloo member has given reporters a false name, identifying himself as a man from Maryland who was killed by police in a no-beating raid last year. The man, who said he was from Flint, expressed grievances over the election, COVID-19 orders and “tyrants” in the government.
The Flint man carried an AR-15 and a Glock handgun. He said he understood why people were afraid of protesters carrying weapons, but said he saw himself in a role similar to that of the police tasked with keeping events safe.
“Just because they have this badge doesn’t make them different from me,” he said.
Anthony Longo, 30, a resident of Lansing, visited the Capitol on Sunday out of curiosity about the protest. Longo said he was not convinced the presidential election was fair but disagreed with the tactics of the “insurgents” who stormed the Capitol earlier this month.
Longo carried pepper spray in his jacket pocket. He said he understands why people can worry about the potential for political violence.
“Nobody talks, that’s the problem,” he said.
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