Boogaloo Protesters Get PA System and Milk From Virginia Cops

Boogaloo Protesters Get PA System and Milk From Virginia Cops

Nine immigrant-rights activists who’d been extradited across state lines on misdemeanor charges of trespass and littering gathered outside the Henrico County, Virginia, Sheriff’s Office on Thursday with supporters, waving flags and calling for their charges to be dropped.

An hour away in Newport News, Virginia, heavily armed men—some associated with the right-wing “Boogaloo” movement—also gathered outside a police station to protest a misdemeanor trespassing charge against one of their own.

Members of the immigrants-rights group, who learned that their cases would not be dropped, were taken inside the Henrico County Sheriff’s Office to process their arrest paperwork. Members of the Boogaloo group received a public announcement system and chocolate milk from the Newport News Police Department.

The disparity underscored complaints of unequal treatment for protesters in Virginia, which has been a hotbed of unrest in 2020—from a massive pro-gun rally at the state capitol building to racial justice demonstrations after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis Police custody.

Activists on the left have accused police of cracking down on them for minor infractions while giving right-wing demonstrators a free hand. And Thursday’s demonstrations in Richmond and Newport News illustrated the canyon in police responses against the left and right.

Nancy Nguyen, a prominent Philadelphia activist, was changing her baby’s diaper on the night of Oct. 8, when three armed police officers entered her home. They handcuffed her in front of her two young children and took her to jail, where she was detained overnight without anti-COVID protective gear, she wrote in an article this week.

Nguyen, 38, was charged with misdemeanor trespassing and littering during a Sept. 8 protest outside the Richmond, Virginia-area home of acting ICE Director Tony Pham. Protesters, who placed crosses outside Pham’s home, condemned ICE’s history of human rights abuses and the separation of parents from their children.

An interstate arrest and a jail stay is heavy-handed for trespass and littering misdemeanors, Nguyen wrote. She argued that her arrest “is an attempt to criminalize nonviolent peaceful protest. I believe this arrest was an attempt to silence and intimidate me,” and other members of the Vietnamese and immigrant-rights communities.

She wasn’t the only out-of-state activist charged with alleged trespass for the Sept. 8 protest; eight participants from North Carolina were hit with the same charges.

On Thursday, Nguyen, and her eight co-defendants, and other immigrant-rights activists rallied outside the Henrico County Sheriff’s Office calling on a prosecutor to drop the charges. Their calls went unheeded and protesters were taken into the sheriff’s office to fill out arrest paperwork. (They were not detained, a citizen journalist tweeted.)

That night, approximately an hour away in Newport News, a different group was protesting a trespassing charge against one of their own, to a more accommodating police force.

Mike Dunn is a recognizable figure in the “Boogaloo” movement, a loose coalition of far-right and libertarian types who traffic in pro-gun and anti-government talk, some of which has allegedly turned into action. Members of the movement have been implicated in murders and plots to kidnap governors. Dunn (who identifies as a libertarian) has not been implicated in those plots. He was, however, arrested earlier this month on a trespassing charge while openly carrying a gun on public property in violation of a new local law.

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