The young man came to the protest over the police killing of George Floyd wearing a tactical vest on his chest and a skull mask over his face. In grainy video footage captured outside of Minneapolis’ Third Police Precinct on the night of May 28, the man can be seen pulling out an AK-47 style rifle and blasting 13 shots into the police building. The shooting happened shortly before the structure was set ablaze.
On Friday, federal officials issued a complaint against a 26-year-old Texan, Ivan Harrison Hunter, they say they have identified as the man in the video. Hunter faces one count of participating in a riot, with a sentence of up to five years in prison.
Hunter could not be reached for comment, and it was not immediately clear whether he had a lawyer.
But along with the charge, federal officials unsealed an affidavit accusing Hunter of being part of a loose nationwide network of violent extremists, known as Boogaloo Bois. The extremists connected and communicated through social media apps, including Facebook, to plot and glorify shocking violence, including killing a federal officer in Oakland and a scheme to supply Hamas with weapons to use against US soldiers.
For example, just a few hours after allegedly shooting up the precinct, Hunter messaged an associate in California, Steven Carrillo.
“Boog,” Hunter wrote.
“Did,” Carrillo responded.
“Go for police buildings,” Hunter advised.
“I did better lol,” Carrillo answered. Indeed, shortly before that exchange, according to authorities, Carrillo had shot and killed a Federal Protective Services officer, David Patrick Underwood, in Oakland.
Experts said the affidavit suggests evidence of a development that many have long suspected and feared: The Boogaloo Bois may not be just disconnected extremists who share a penchant for Hawaiian shirts and chaos. They may have built nationwide systems to coordinate acts of violence and terror.
“This now tells us the Boogaloo Bois are more than just a bunch of unconnected extremists,” said Brian Levin, director for The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. “[It’s] a network for extremists who communicate in real time around terror plots and attacks.”
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Boogaloo Bois emerged from “antigovernment and white power online spaces in the early 2010s.” They have at times called for a second Civil War and are well known for wearing floral Hawaiian shirts with camouflage fatigues and subscribing to a range of extremist ideas.
The criminal complaint filed in court Friday reveals a network across the country whose members have been directly linked with deadly acts, hoping to incite even more violence across the nation. It also reveals the violent group of extremists used a variety of apps to communicate and network, yet continued to heavily rely on Facebook to not just connect with one another, but amplify their message over a network that expanded across the country, touching on Oakland, Minneapolis, Texas and across to North Carolina.
Facebook announced on June 30 that it was banning the anti-government network from its platform. BuzzFeed News had previously reported that the social network had profited by running ads for Boogaloo pages.
Despite the ban, Levin said much damage had already been done: the group had already greatly expanded using the network. Now, groups like the Boogaloo Bois could simply move their network out of Facebook and into other encrypted apps and networks.
“The problem is they give the vaccine after the virus has already ravaged the body,” Levin said of the decision by Facebook to ban Boogaloo groups on its platform. “The horses are out of the barn now with regard to Boogaloo.”
According to court records, it was a May 26 Facebook post that prompted Hunter to drop everything, grab his AK-47-style rifle and make the 1,000-mile drive from Austin to Minneapolis, where protests over the killing of George Floyd by police had turned violent.
“I need a headcount,” the post read, asking Boogaloo Bois members across the country to respond.
“72 hours out,” Hunter replied.
The Facebook post Hunter responded to, authorities said, was posted by Michael Solomon, a 30-year-old who along with Benjamin Ryan Teeter are accused of trying to sell weapons to someone they believed was a member of Hamas. The two also considered becoming “mercenaries” for the terrorist group, prosecutors alleged, in order to raise money to fund the Boogaloo movement.
“Lock and load boys,” Teeter allegedly posted on Facebook as he headed to Minneapolis from North Carolina. “Boog flags are in the air, and the national network is going off.”
As each man made their separate drives to Minneapolis, federal officials allege that Teeter and Hunter communicated mostly through Facebook messages, and coordinated with Solomon to eventually meet at a Cub Foods grocery store near the police department’s third precinct.
“We have a team of 5,” Hunter messaged Solomon, according to the indictment.
Video obtained by the FBI shows someone wearing a skull mask over his head, glasses and a baseball cap firing into the police station that night while looters were inside the building. According to the indictment, Hunter was identified as the shooter by a “cooperating defendant.”
Hunter allegedly yelled out, “Justice for Floyd!” and then high-fived someone nearby.
Days later, Solomon would post a picture on his Facebook page of the group standing in the darkness outside the Cub Foods that day, including Hunter holding on to his rifle.
Teeter would post two pictures with Hunter, wearing the same skull mask, and then message him calling themselves, “battle buddies,” before Hunter headed back down to Texas.
“My mom would call the fbi if she knew what I do and the level I’m at w[ith] iot,” Hunter allegedly wrote on social media.
The group of extremists continued to communicate through Facebook and other apps, and even reached out to each other as law enforcement tried to catch up to them.
On June 1, Carrillo was being sought by law enforcement after allegedly killing a federal officer in Oakland. Officials said Carrillo is believed to have taken advantage of the massive protests that erupted across the country “to kill cops” to try to spark a Civil War.
Carrillo was in hiding when Hunter reached out on Facebook again, asking for money.
Court records don’t explain why Hunter needed the money, but Carrillo responded that he was going to “be in the woods for a bit,” and managed to send Hunter $200.
“Doing good shit out there,” Carrillo allegedly wrote to Hunter.
“You too king!” he replied.
Meanwhile on Facebook, Hunter publicly boasted of committing violent acts, claiming he had “burned police stations with black panthers in Minneapolis.”
“Want something to change? Start risking felonies for what is good,” he wrote.
According to the complaint, Hunter referred to himself as a “terrorist,” and claimed he and Carrillo were members of the “Happy Friends Group,” a team that would respond with violence if police tried to take their guns away.
Then on June 7, Hunter learned Carrillo had been taken into custody, accused of shooting and killing a Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Deputy in the process. Before officers grabbed him, Carrillo allegedly wrote “BOOG” on the hood of a white van with his own blood.
Hunter sent a Facebook message to Teeter that day, sharing a link to news of the arrest.
“Well shit,” Teeter replied.
It was months later in September that Hunter would learn that Teeter and Solomon were arrested over their alleged plot to sell weapons to Hamas.
The 26-year-old then told a confidential informant working with the FBI that it was “time to start shooting” and that he was willing to, “go down shooting.”
The Guardian view on Arcadia and a retail emergency: where’s the plan? | Retail industry
Arcadia is a figurative region of rural contentment. Perhaps no other business has been so inappropriately named as Arcadia Group, which owns Topshop, Burton and Wallis. This week it is likely to enter administration, offering a cautionary tale. Sir Philip Green, Arcadia’s driving force, used cost-cutting to boost profits. Financial engineering saw a £1.2bn tax-free dividend paid to the Green family in 2005. But there was little innovation. Arcadia lost ground to high street and online rivals. Sir Philip became embroiled in unseemly rows with the pensions watchdog over Arcadia’s retirement fund and his behaviour towards employees. More than 13,000 jobs could go in the biggest retail collapse of the pandemic so far.
The demise of Arcadia threatens to sink a rescue deal for a struggling Debenhams. These two occupy 600 stores and employ about 27,000 people – more than the fishing industry that the prime minister wants to protect. Yet there’s no rescue planned for the high street. Familiar names such as Monsoon, Accessorize, Laura Ashley, Oasis and Warehouse have gone under this year. Analysts say almost a quarter of a million people will lose their jobs as 20,000 stores close, with women disproportionately affected. This will be a bleak Christmas for many families. Though the high street giants must take their share of the blame, it is an emergency that the government needs to address. City and town centres rely on shops for a sense of place. Retail is a vital source of work in every community, providing one in eight jobs and accounting for more than a tenth of Britain’s economic output, according to a 2018 TUC report.
As spending moves from physical stores to the internet, the amount of work and person-to-person contact involved in shopping wanes. Only about a minute of human labour goes into the average Amazon parcel: its plans to recruit 8,000 more workers won’t make up for the tens of thousands of high street jobs lost. Whether online or offline, owners win big while workers lose out. E-commerce executives this month raked in the largest payouts in UK corporate history. Many bricks-and-mortar retail jobs are low-paid, particularly for young workers. But they offer human contact and a ladder to the top. Tony Hoggett, the chief operating officer of Tesco, began his career stacking shelves, and noted in 2017 that his is “one of a handful of industries where it’s still genuinely possible for people to progress from the shopfloor to the boardroom”.
Coronavirus is a reckoning for the retail trade, with profound effects for the economy. As big names go under, landlords face rent shortfalls that could drag down asset prices. Creditors will be staring at big losses. This unsustainable mix of trends is coming to a head: job cuts lead to income reductions and then spending drops. Workers cannot load up with ever increasing levels of debt. Demand for goods and services will fall. The government must show leadership by setting a policy framework that is conducive to good jobs, with effective tech oversight and proper corporate accountability. It might be too late to stop the Green family sloping off in a yacht, but checking irresponsible behaviour in business ought to be part of the ministerial brief.
Microsoft’s GitHub has become magnet for thorny issues like RIAA
In 2018, Microsoft made one of its priciest acquisitions ever, spending $7.5 billion on code-sharing site GitHub. It wasn’t the cleanest fit. GitHub is used by over 50 million developers who tend to be outspoken, including when it comes to things they dislike about Microsoft.
The deal continues to pose unexpected challenges, like a recent spat with the Recording Industry Association of America. In October, the RIAA asked GitHub to take down youtube-dl, a piece of open-source software that enables people to download videos from YouTube and other online services.
The software disappeared from the internet, and users objected.
One GitHub user, on the site, described the incident as “a shame for GitHub” and said “that Microsoft acquisition was really a mistake.” Another called for Microsoft to resign from the RIAA, an organization that consists primarily of record labels and musicians. The removal by GitHub so angered yet another user that the person responded by posting part of GitHub’s own proprietary software on the area of the site where digital copyright takedown requests are reported.
The code was adjusted by the person who maintained the project so that it was no longer in violation of the RIAA. The company then brought youtube-dl back online and announced a new process for handling similar claims.
Like fellow tech giants Amazon, Apple and Google, Microsoft faces all sorts of challenges related to its bigness, whether from its many rivals, millions of customers, profit-hungry investors or politicians concerned about competition. GitHub, as a storehouse of open-source projects and a virtual lifeline for programmers, creates tension of a different sort.
Some problems GitHub can solve by adhering to the demands of protesting users. Others are more sensitive, like the company’s work with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
GitHub has refused to cut ties with ICE, leading employees to resign after the agency renewed its contract to use GitHub software. Key GitHub users published an open letter late last year insisting that GitHub end the contract, citing the agency’s separation of children from their parents and other activities. Hundreds of GitHub’s own workers signed an internal petition to have GitHub stop work with ICE last year, too, said two former employees who were not authorized to talk about internal affairs.
GitHub did not respond to a request for comment.
In addressing the ICE issue, GitHub expressed opposition to family separation. The company said it doesn’t have a services agreement with the agency, provides no consulting work and “has no visibility into how this software is being used, other than presumably for software development and version control.”
Microsoft has faced criticism, separate from GitHub, for its work providing cloud services to ICE, even though the company said in 2018 that it was “dismayed” by the practice of family separation.
For GitHub, the latest incident involving the video downloading tool has provided an opportunity for users to reignite the ICE controversy. Former GitHub engineer Zach Holman responded to an explanation provided by Nat Friedman, the company’s CEO, by bringing up the past incident.
Friedman’s tweets often receive replies to the effect of “Drop ICE.”
“The whole thing permeates everything they do now,” said Holman, who left GitHub in 2015 and now invests in start-ups. He said the easiest resolution would be to end the contract, which Friedman has described as “not financially material for our company.”
Earlier this year, GitHub was among the technology companies that showed support for the Black community following the killing in May of George Floyd while in police custody, and the nationwide protests that ensued.
A few GitHub users suggested that the company could rename part of its service so that “master,” a racially sensitive word, could be retired. The term referred to the primary area where developers store their code.
GitHub announced a plan to do exactly that one week later, changing the name to “main.” Even with good intentions, the company welcomed a fresh batch of comments about the ICE contract.
Holman summed it up this way: “How do I reconcile your position with ICE and what you’re saying about support for diversity in tech?”
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