A Perfect Storm: Social Protests in the United States in Defense of Constitutional Freedoms

(by Giacomo Forges)

1. An unpredictable year

In the entire western hemisphere, the political climate of recent years seems to be highly polarized, as evidenced by the presence of anti-establishment leaders with more radical positions also in South America. Especially in the United States, the situation has been particularly heated, at least since the end of the Obama presidency.

The images of the brutal murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis, the capital of the state of Minnesota, undoubtedly sparked strong feelings of disgust in the American and international public opinion. Different personalities expressed words of dismay and harshly condemned the fact. President Donald Trump himself, a few days after the incident, called Floyd's death a “grave tragedy” that “should never have happened” and that “has filled Americans all over the country with horror, anger, and grief”[1].

Following this tragic event and the outbreak of the protests across the Union, the situation in some areas of the country progressively worsened, making necessary the imposition of a curfew in over 200 cities and the activation of the National Guard by the governors of 27 states.[2].

It is, therefore, reasonable to believe that, in a country severely strained by the health and social consequences of the coronavirus epidemic and made even more unstable by the presidential elections scheduled for November 3, any further episode, with sufficient media coverage, could lead to an uncontrolled increase in violence and disorder[3].

In fact, since the beginning of this spring, chaos and unrest seem to have spread all over the United States to the point of becoming the leitmotif of the internal situation in the country.

2. Threats to individual freedoms

First of all, the outbreak of the coronavirus, and especially the consequent quarantine measures, abruptly awakened the minds of a people that has always been very jealous and attentive to the conservation of the individual freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. In spring, the most intransigent citizens even compared these emergency measures with those put in place a few months earlier in China, a regime that many in the United States consider as much authoritarian as ideologically opposed.

The analysis of the material publicly available online, namely on social networks, widely used not only for propaganda but also for the organization of the movements and the demonstrations, allowed observers to ascertain the existence of a vast and complex plethora of groups and, in some cases, of real militias, characterized by diversified positions and a peculiar symbolism.

3. The Boogaloo Bois

This is especially the case for the Boogaloo Bois[4], an anti-lockdown group, driven by an apocalyptic and anticipatory vision of a Second American Civil War, considered necessary to defend the Constitution from a meddlesome government and the claims of the left-wing groups. The movement, although defining itself as libertarian, includes both adherents linked to the extreme right, and members with more moderate and libertarian positions, in turn, outraged by the police attacks on African American citizens and even partisans of the nationalist-black self-defense groups[5].

The ideological pillar of the Boogaloo Bois is the extensive interpretation of the II Amendment to the American Constitution. They declared themselves ready for an armed confrontation with the police to keep inviolate the right, for every citizen, to carry weapons and therefore, in case of need, be able to effectively oppose, through the force of arms, to any prevarications of constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights and freedoms.