Texas White extremist infiltrated George Floyd protests

A protester lobs a canister of tear gas back at police during the George Floyd riots / Chris Juhn

Admits to shooting up MPD Third Precinct 

A Texas man who pleaded guilty on Sept. 30 to a federal riot charge admitted he traveled to Minneapolis last year amid unrest in the city to sow mayhem following the death of George Floyd.

Ivan Harrison Hunter, 24, admitted in federal court that he traveled from the San Antonio area and fired 13 rounds from an AK-47-style semi-automatic rifle into the Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct building on the night of May 28, 2020, while looters and rioters were thought to be inside. No one was struck by the gunfire. 

Footage taken that night shows that Hunter, after firing the shots, high-fived another person and said, “Justice for Floyd!” Following the riot, Hunter bragged about his contributions to the chaos on Facebook, writing, “I helped the community burn down that police station in Minneapolis.” 

Hunter is a self-proclaimed member of the “Boogaloo Bois,” a far-right, anti-government extremist group. Members of the movement appeared at Black Lives Matter protests across the country in 2020 carrying weapons and wearing Hawaiian shirts and tactical gear. Boogaloers believe a second civil war, known as the “boogaloo” is imminent, and will result in the overthrow of what they believe to be a corrupt political system.

Chauntyll Allen, founder of Black Lives Matter Twin Cities, said it’s not uncommon for “agents” to appear at racial justice protests and attempt to infiltrate the movement. Allen said about the demonstrations last year, “We knew there was going to be a bunch of agents or Boogaloo Bois, Proud Boys,” who would show up. 

Federal agents reviewed footage from the night, which showed an individual in a skull mask, identified as Hunter, firing into the precinct building, according to a release from the Department of Justice. Investigators said the mask seen worn by Hunter in a Facebook photo helped them confirm that he was the man in the mask at the scene of the shooting. 

Boogaloo memes and online content first surfaced in White power and anti-government spaces on the internet in the early 2010s. Some members of the group have promoted White Supremacy beliefs, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a bipartisan think tank. 

Boogaloo Boy Ivan Hunter

The Southern Poverty Law Center notes of the extremist group that “few of its adherents are interested in aligning with Black Lives Matter or antifascist protesters against police brutality.” So, how and why did Hunter end up at a racial justice protest following Floyd’s death?

Hunter made his way to Minneapolis in the days after Floyd died after communicating with two other Boogaloo Bois members, Michael Solomon, and Benjamin Teeter. On May 26, Solomon, of Minnesota, posted on Facebook that he needed a “headcount,” according to court documents. 

Later, Hunter wrote on the app, “Headed to Minneapolis today,” and Teeter exclaimed, “Lock and load boys. Boog flags are in the air and the national network is going off.”

Both Solomon and Teeter pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy to provide material support to designated foreign terrorist organization Hamas. The men met with an undercover FBI employee they believed to be a Hamas member last year and agreed to manufacture weapons to be used against United States military personnel overseas.

The Boogaloo Bois are known to exploit tensions and sow chaos in pursuit of further violence. The term “boogaloo” has in some cases been used as an outright call for a race war, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The word is regularly used by White nationalists and neo-Nazis who want to see society crumble so that a fascist state can be established. 

Allen said it’s clear the Boogaloo Bois showed up “to disrupt the situation.” The danger of such a motive, Allen said, is that Black Lives Matter demonstrators are no longer able to appear as peaceful protesters and the movement becomes discredited.

“All of sudden the SWAT team moves in on us, we’re tear-gassed and rubber-bulleted…all of this became a totally different story in this realm because things got set on fire,” Allen said.

On June 3, 2020, just days after the shooting at the precinct in Minneapolis, Hunter attended another Floyd protest in Austin, Texas. At around 2 am, Austin police officers conducted a traffic stop on a pick-up truck carrying Hunter and two other occupants. 

Inside the vehicle, officers discovered six loaded magazines for an AK-47-style assault rifle affixed to a tactical vest Hunter was wearing. Officers also found three semi-automatic rifles and two loaded pistols, one in plain view next to the driver’s seat, and another in the center console. 

Following the traffic stop, authorities learned Hunter was involved with Bogaloo Bois member Steven Carrillo, who has been charged in the May 29, 2020 murder of a federal protective service officer in California. An FBI informant later told investigators Hunter had admitted to shooting at the precinct building and helping to set it ablaze. He was federally charged with participating in a riot in October last year. 

Allen said that back in 2016, after Philando Castile was killed by a St. Anthony police officer, it was easy to spot someone who looked out of place at a protest. “It was clear as day. When a White Supremacist hit the scene, people would be like, ‘Look at that.’ We’d watch them for a few minutes,” then eventually kick them out, Allen said.

But “when George Floyd got murdered and everybody took to the streets, it was really hard to navigate who was a White Supremacist, a Boogalo Boi, a Proud Boy.”

Although the Boogaloo Bois are an anti-police movement, Allen says their actions don’t contribute to Black Lives Matter organizers’ efforts to end police brutality but are instead counterproductive. “They’re attacking the establishment, but they’re also attacking us,” Allen said, adding that investigators finally seem to be looking deeper to acknowledge the insincere motivation fueling certain actors.

“When they look deeper they realize, ‘Oh, wait, these are White guys setting things on fire, these are White guys that are causing the havoc,’” Allen said. 

Hunter faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for his role in the riot.