Three Nevada men with ties to the anti-government “boogaloo” movement, a loose group of right-wing extremists advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government, have been arrested on terrorism-related charges in what authorities say was a conspiracy to spark violence during recent protests in Las Vegas.
Federal prosecutors say the three white men with U.S. military experience are accused of conspiring to carry out a plan that began in April in conjunction with protests to reopen businesses closed because of the coronavirus and later sought to capitalize on protests over George Floyd, the Minneapolis man who died in police custody.
A complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas on Wednesday said the men self-identified as part of the “boogaloo” movement, which U.S. prosecutors said in the document is “a term used by extremists to signify coming civil war and/or fall of civilization.”
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They were arrested Saturday on the way to a protest in downtown Las Vegas after filling gas cans at a parking lot and making Molotov cocktails in glass bottles, according to a copy of the criminal complaint.
U.S. Attorney for the District of Nevada Nicholas A. Trutanich said authorities have been focused on violent instigators hijacking peaceful protests and demonstrations across the country to exploit “the real and legitimate outrage over Mr. Floyd’s death for their own radical agendas.”
Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died after a white Minneapolis police officer kept his knee pressed into his neck for more than eight minutes. Across the country, protesters have taken to the streets for days to express their anger.
Stephen T. Parshall, 35, Andrew T. Lynam Jr., 23, and William L. Loomis, 40, were being held on $1 million bond each in the Clark County jail Wednesday, according to court records.
Each faces two federal charges — conspiracy to damage and destroy by fire and explosive, and possession of unregistered firearms — along with multiple terrorism-related state charges.
Lynam is an Army Reservist, Parshall is a former Navy enlistee and Loomis is a former member of the Air Force.
Court records don’t list lawyers for the men.
The Las Vegas FBI Joint Terrorism Taskforce began investigating Lynam and Parshall in April 2020 based on a report that the men were planning terrorist activity, according to the complaint.
A FBI informant met Lynam and Parshall at a ReOpen Nevada rally in Las Vegas.
On May 29, Lynam, Parshall, Loomis and the informant attended Black Lives Matter protests on the Las Vegas Strip. Parshall indicated he had glass bottles, rags and gasoline for Molotov cocktails and fireworks to strap to hairspray cans as an accelerant, the complaint said. They joined the crowd with rifles.
Lynam taunted police by getting in their face and yelling at them, and Parshall was “very upset that the protests were not turning violent,” the complaint said.
Parshall told protesters that peaceful protests do not accomplish anything and they needed to turn violent, according to authorities.
When Las Vegas Metropolitan Police ordered protesters to disperse and return home, Lynam and Loomis ran to their vehicles and Parshall stayed in the streets.They drove toward the protesters and jumped a median to pick up Parshall.
What is the ‘boogaloo’ movement?
The anti-government “boogaloo” movement is a loose network of gun enthusiasts who often express support for overthrowing the U.S. government. Its name, a reference to a 1984 movie sequel called “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo,” is a code word for a second civil war.
The movement is rooted in online meme culture, but the coronavirus pandemic has become a catalyst for real-world activity. Many “boogaloo” followers have shown up at COVID-19 lockdown protests armed with rifles and wearing tactical vests over Hawaiian shirts and leis, a nod to the “big luau” derivation of the movement’s name.
While some “boogaloo” promoters insist they aren’t genuinely advocating for violence, law-enforcement officials say they have foiled bombing and shooting plots by people who have connections to the movement or at least used its terminology.
A 36-year-old Arkansas man whose Facebook page included “boogaloo” references was arrested on April 11 by police in Texarkana, Texas, on a charge he threatened to ambush and kill a police officer on a Facebook Live video.
In March, a Missouri man with ties to neo-Nazis was shot and killed when FBI agents tried to arrest him. Timothy Wilson, 36, was planning to bomb a hospital in the Kansas City area on the day that a COVID-19 stay-at-home order was scheduled to take effect, authorities said. Wilson told an undercover FBI agent that his goal was “to kick start a revolution” and referred to his plans as “operation boogaloo,” according to an agent’s affidavit.