The self-described “Boogaloo Boi” had a carefully laid-out plan: In order to spark an uprising that would lead to the imposition of martial law and thus the next civil war, he would ambush police officers responding to a fake domestic-violence call, who were to be stealthily surrounded by armed militiamen, “and the officers would have to put their pistols on the ground or get shot by the count of ten.” He also “hoped we don’t have to put them down, but I will do it if I have to.”
On May 8, Christian Ferguson of Cleveland, Ohio, performed a “dry run” of his plan with a couple of men he thought were fellow militiamen at Cuyahoga National Park. The men, however, were informants, and later that day the FBI arrested Ferguson and charged him with plotting to kidnap or kill police officers in order to steal their equipment. He is 20 years old.
Ferguson’s case underscores the simmering violence latent in the so-called “Boogaloo” movement, which is fueled by violent memes fantasizing about an armed uprising against both the government and their fellow citizens. A “Boogaloo” enthusiast in Colorado was also recently arrested by the FBI on pipe-bomb charges after he boasted on Facebook that he intended to bring his long rifles to an anti-lockdown protest in Denver. Earlier, a man in Missouri who also apparently participated in “Boogaloo” discussions was arrested for plotting to bomb a suburban hospital. FBI agents, according to the affidavit filed in the case, became interested in Ferguson’s activities after he began posting plans for an armed uprising fomented by the militia group he claimed to lead, the “75th Spartans,” on the Discord gaming chat app. They assigned two informants who infiltrated the group and began collecting evidence regarding Ferguson’s plans.
As Will Sommer explains at The Daily Beast, those plans were simultaneously callous and bloodthirsty:
Ferguson allegedly imagined setting the dead officers’ bodies and cars on fire after the ambush, and leaving a “calling card” with the militia’s name to inspire other anti-government militias to attack law enforcement. In a tape recording made by a federal informant, Ferguson allegedly imagined a Fox News broadcast warning that “the Spartans are killing police officers.”
The affidavit helps describe Ferguson’s grander scheme as well: His hope being that the incident would spark a rush of fellow “Boogaloo” militiamen conducting similar operations, eventually inducing the government to declare martial law amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This in turn, he believed, would lead to the hoped-for broader civil war in which “Patriots” would overturn established authorities, obtain revenge on their “traitor” fellow citizens, and establish a new authoritarian nationalist regime.
Ferguson discussed other plans for attacking police and government authorities, including one involving homemade mustard gas and pipe bombs. He also believed his group would need money from a sponsor in order to purchase military-style ammunition—after all, he said, he barely had enough money to buy a pistol.
Obtaining material was Ferguson’s first objective: “We also can’t afford martial law to be installed until I know all my pilots are fully armed and armored up,” he wrote.
When planning the ambush—which was to be set up by anonymous female caller reporting a domestic-abuse situation at the Cuyahoga park—he discussed surrounding the officers and taking their gear, but shooting them at the first sign of resistance. In most of the scenarios he discussed, the officers wound up dead, though he wanted one of them to remain alive to “limp home and tell law enforcement that the Spartans are out here hunting us.”
While performing the “dry run” for his plan, he told the informants that he could imagine hearing a “dumbass” police officer “plea and cry ‘I have a family.’” He also talked about being sure to leave a Spartan calling card on the bodies of the dead officers.
Ferguson believed the attack would help recruit new members to the “75th Spartans,” as well as inspire similar groups to form and to strike police similarly. The plan to kill police officers while letting one live "with our calling card” was a device to draw media coverage, notably Fox News, the affidavit said.
“We still are building numbers but this will get patriots and future Spartans interested,” he wrote.
Ferguson made an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen Burke on Tuesday.