A far-right “boogaloo” supporter allegedly killed a Black federal police officer — and right-wing media blamed it on protests

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Federal prosecutors in California have charged a U.S. Air Force sergeant and an accomplice with links to the anti-government “boogaloo” movement with the murder of federal security officer David Patrick Underwood on May 29. They are also alleged to have used the cover of the ongoing nationwide protests over racism and police brutality in order to further the loosely affiliated militant movement’s goal of triggering a civil war.

In the last few weeks, however, right-wing media had sought to use the killing of Underwood, a Black American who worked in law enforcement, to discredit the wider Black Lives Matter protests.

The primary suspect Steven Carrillo was arrested on June 6, after an ambush-style shooting resulting in the death of another law enforcement officer, sheriff’s deputy Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller. Another suspect, Robert Alvin Justus, Jr, is alleged to have driven the car that Carrillo rode in as they went to kill Underwood and is charged with aiding and abetting.

Self-proclaimed “boogaloo boys,” known for wearing Hawaiian shirts, have been appearing at recent anti-racism protests, attempting to stir up violence. In Las Vegas, three suspects are charged with “what authorities say was a conspiracy to spark violence.” They had allegedly originally hatched their plan around anti-lockdown protests in the coronavirus pandemic, before switching gears to target protests against police brutality.

According to the federal complaint released Tuesday, Carrillo posted comments on Facebook about exploiting the protests: “Go to the riots and support our own cause. Show them the real targets. Use their anger to fuel our fire. Think outside the box. We have mobs of angry people to use to our advantage.”

“There is no evidence that these men had any intention to join the demonstration in Oakland,” FBI agent-in-charge Jack Bennett said at a news conference this past Tuesday, the Mercury News reports. “They came to Oakland to kill cops.”

But days after Underwood was killed, Fox News anchor Eric Shawn declared that “protests in some cases have gone beyond that”:

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Citation From the May 31, 2020, edition of Fox News’ America’s News Headquarters

ERIC SHAWN (ANCHOR): Sadly, the protests in some cases have gone beyond that. And if you don't think that we have been under attack from domestic terrorists, let me show you a picture of one victim. This is Patrick Underwood. Mr. Underwood was 53 years old. He was a federal protection officer who was guarding the Oakland federal building, in Oakland, when someone in a car pulled in front and started shooting the doors out of the federal building in Oakland. 53-year-old Mr. Underwood, police say, was shot and killed, one of his colleagues was wounded. The Department of Homeland Security calls the shooting an act of domestic terrorism by an assassin. The family of Mr. Underwood now grieving the loss of his life and what has happened in our country the past few days. Patrick Underwood, 53 years old, clearly a victim of domestic terrorism as he was protecting federal property in Oakland, California.

The Wall Street Journal ran an editorial on June 1, seeming to castigate California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom for urging the public to not conflate Underwood’s murder with the protests writ large:

The FBI says Underwood was killed by an unidentified person shooting from a car. The interim Oakland police chief says this was most likely an attack deliberately targeting uniformed officers. Meanwhile, Gov. Gavin Newsom, who speaks of the protests that followed Floyd’s death as an example of people “rightfully outraged at how systemic racism is allowed to persist,” said of Underwood’s murder that “no one should rush to conflate this heinous act with the protests.”

It’s disappointing that amid the violence and tragedy the murder of an African-American federal officer has been mostly lost in the chaos. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t serve the preferred narrative about race in America. But Dave Patrick Underwood gave his life protecting a U.S. courthouse so that even those like the monsters who shot him can enjoy due process. Every American who hopes for peace and justice honors this good man’s name.

Fox News contributor Marc Thiessen also wrote in his column at The Washington Post titled “The deaths that don’t fit the ‘defund the police’ narrative”:

It is inspiring to see so many Americans of all colors marching in solidarity with George Floyd. We are all rightly outraged by what happened to him and to all other black victims of police violence and unequal treatment. But where is the outrage for Dave Patrick Underwood, David Dorn, Chris Beaty, Italia Marie Kelly or the others who lost their lives because of the violence in our cities?

Nowhere to be found, because their deaths don’t fit the narrative. It’s hard to chant “defund the police” while demanding justice for a retired black police captain and a young federal officer who gave their lives, or the other innocent black Americans who were killed during the riots. So their stories are just swept under the rug and forgotten.

Sorry, if we truly believe as a nation that black lives matter, then their lives must matter, too.

Fox News coverage in the past few weeks of Underwood’s death tended to be less definite than Shawn’s initial commentary when it came to ascribing responsibility, but did juxtapose the killing with the ongoing demonstrations.

On the June 1 edition of Fox & Friends First, co-host Jillian Mele said in a news headline: “A federal protective service officer killed during protests in California. … The Department of Homeland Security believes it was related to demonstrations over the death of George Floyd.”

And on the June 1 edition of America’s Newsroom, co-anchor Sandra Smith said: “The president calling it an act of domestic terrorism, a federal protective service officer was shot and killed Friday night in Oakland, California, amid riots in the wake of George Floyd’s death.”

But on the June 12 edition of Hannity, the host said to Angela Underwood Jacobs, Underwood’s sister, “He was murdered by rioters — an unidentified person shot your brother.” Hannity also tied Underwood’s killing to the ongoing protests and mentioned “bricks, rocks, bottles, Molotov cocktails … [and] police precincts abandoned and taken over,” that last example being an apparent reference to an ongoing event in Seattle for which Fox News has amplified false information.

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Citation From the June 12, 2020, edition of Fox News’ Hannity

Notably, Hannity made his comment the day after the Santa Cruz district attorney had revealed that Carrillo had scrawled in blood onto the hood of a car the boogaloo phrases, “boog” and “I became unreasonable.”