Minneapolis, MN – A ‘Boogaloo Bois’ member interview during 2020 unrest in Minneapolis triggered a wave of intra-agency information sharing which ultimately connected to a federal investigation and indictments. Documents obtained by Unicorn Riot, including emails from the Minneapolis Police (MPD) sent to the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and high ranking officials in the Minnesota Army National Guard spotlight partnerships between police, government agencies, and the U.S. military.
Obtained via records requests, 50-pages of law enforcement communications exclusively published by Unicorn Riot reveal a wide concern about adherents to the Boogaloo movement, including surveillance.
The documents center around an interview by professed Boogaloo member Benjamin Teeter during a Unicorn Riot live stream amidst a tumultuous night of rioting in downtown Minneapolis on August 26, 2020.
An email by MPD Officer Thomas Conlin to the supervisors of MPD’s Strategic Operations Division at 1:36 a.m. on August 27 included these two sentences: “There is video of a male who identifies himself as Benjamin Ryan Teeter while speaking to Unicorn Riot. He states he is a member of the MN Boogaloo Boyz and is willing to shoot at cops.”
What followed was a chain of messages between agencies and departments, including the Minnesota National Guard.
Recently, Unicorn Riot released a report titled MPD Political Extremism Powerpoint Spotlights Antifa and Boogaloo which details police training documents that show the MPD downplaying threats from Boogaloo movement while criminalizing anti-fascists and targeting their Twitter accounts.
Yet, these newly published communications show how police reacted in deep concern to a local Boogaloo presence. They also spotlight differences between MPD’s training and intelligence gathering practices. Authorities shared videos and images and made their own PowerPoint slides about Teeter, disseminating the information widely across agencies.
The Boogaloo movement consists of militia groups of mostly far-right ideology, although some dubiously claim to espouse anti-racism. It grew from 4chan and internet platforms trading in memes about racialized civil war, with a particular fondness for Hawaiian shirts. For a detailed look at the Boogaloo Bois from inside their chat servers, see our 2020 Discord Leaks special, Patriotwave’s Boogaloo: Engineering an Aesthetic of Violence.
The focus of this story revolves around Benjamin Teeter, information sharing from the Minneapolis Police, and the encounter on August 26, 2020. For a few points of context on the Boogaloo Bois and the simmering fire from the Summer of 2020 that was never put out in the Twin Cities after George Floyd was killed by police, read the background below.
Benjamin Teeter – August 26, 2020
Just three months after Minneapolis Police wrathfully unleashed violence against the community protesting the torturous police murder killing of George Floyd and a popular uprising left parts of the city in ruins, a similar night of fiery unrest unfolded on August 26, 2020.
Spontaneous protests started in downtown Minneapolis after a man wanted for murder killed himself on Nicollet Mall, a busy pedestrian-friendly street, as police approached. Many initially believed the police to be responsible for his death.
Unrest lasted throughout the night of August 26 and well into the morning. Aside from the protests, stores downtown and across the metro area were broken into and stolen from and several structures across Minneapolis were burned down. The National Guard was activated, hundreds of State Patrol were bussed in, a curfew was enforced and police arrested 132 people.
At times police responded with violence, beating people, using pepper spray and shooting 40mm marker rounds at the crowd. Through the night there were several instances of shots being fired downtown, likely a response to the police aggression and overall unrest.
Fear of white vigilante attacks charged a tense climate as described below, just one day after the mass shooting by Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha that killed two people during a protest against police terror.
Sometime after 10 p.m., a car carrying two self-professed Boogaloo Bois (Benjamin Teeter and an unknown person) was seen driving in an SUV downtown on 3rd Avenue near 10th Street without normal license plates and the back-window lifted up.
A bystander pointed out the car was unmarked; Teeter was riding shotgun inside it. Unicorn Riot interviewed the car’s occupants a short time later.
In this interview, which was live streamed, Teeter named himself and described his purpose of showing up as one of protecting the protesters against the police. “We want to back y’all up and if the police start shooting you, we’re going to shoot back,” Teeter said. For more on the specifics of the interview, see below. See the interview in full starting at the 2:44:51 mark.
Post-Interview Police Communications
Teeter’s interview drew the interest of MPD Officer Thomas Conlin, who then sent out an early morning email to MPD’s Strategic Operations Division with an image and video attached. This led to First Precinct SafeZone Cameras MPD Officer Craig Williams creating and sending out a PowerPoint presentation focused on Teeter. (Unicorn Riot reported on the controversial public/private SafeZone partnership in 2021.)
Together, their emails were sent to a slew of high-positioned police officers, city officials, elected politicians, government agencies, and several top-ranking military members.
August 27, 2020
One of the first to forward Officer Conlin’s email was seasoned MPD veteran Lucas Peterson. Peterson’s been involved in many incidents of violence against the community – he killed Terrance Franklin in 2013, shooting him five times in the head. Nearly 12 hours after Conlin sent the email about Teeter, Peterson forwarded it to MPD’s Gun Investigations Unit.
Replying to Peterson’s forward about six hours later was MPD Officer Lindsey Kortus, who sent out two messages, the first one saying MPD was doing “surveillance” on Teeter “during the riots” and the second asking if he wanted her to “put something together to send out.”
“Sgt- We were doing surveillance on this guy [Ben Teeter] during the riots, they were staying up at a north side address and were contracted to do armed security at the So Lo grocery off Lowry. I see what I have on him.”
MPD Officer Lindsey Kortus says about Boogaloo Boi Benjamin Teeter in an email to MPD Sgt. Lucas Peterson
At 7:27 p.m. on August 27, 2020, 18 hours after Conlin’s original email, Kelly Martin, an Intelligence Analyst with MPD’s Gun Investigations Unit, forwarded Conlin’s email to Michael Cannizzaro, a veteran special agent of the FBI. (Unicorn Riot did not receive documents showing any response from Cannizzaro.)
That same day, just before 6 p.m., the new Third Precinct Inspector, Jose Gomez forwarded Conlin’s email and attachments to MPD Officer Steven Herron, writing a single line, “Your people….be sa[f]e out there” with the last word redacted in the documents we received. (In November 2020, Gomez was hazed by Sgt. Andrew Bittell in the ‘Shame Games’ video for saying the ‘forbidden’ name of community engagement officer Deitan Dubuc.)
August 29-30, 2020
Two days later, on August 29, Officer Williams sent out a PowerPoint that he created “after seeing the interview on Unicorn Riot.” The PDF features screenshots from the video interview along with images of Ben Teeter taken from various media reports.
View the PowerPoint below:
Within minutes of being sent out, Williams’ PowerPoint (PPT) was circulated to dozens of law enforcement officers and several other government agencies, including the National Guard.
MPD Lt. Mark Klukow forwarded the PPT to Fifth Precinct Inspector Katie Blackwell, then-Commander Scott Gerlicher, and now-Deputy Chief Erick Fors, who also oversees MPD’s Special Operations and Intelligence divisions. (Klukow is now running for Hennepin County Sheriff, challenging incumbent Dave Hutchinson.)
Two minutes later, Gerlicher responded to Klukow asking, “Did that letter get sent up?” Scott Gerlicher, a former SWAT commander, has since retired. He was overseeing MPD’s Special Operations and Intelligence Division at this time in 2020 and making over $150,000 a year.
The start of Gerlicher’s career mirrors that of the former Minnesota State Patrol Captain, Joseph Dwyer. As young men starting in the police force they both worked undercover in Minnesota high schools impersonating high school students to set up fake drug buys.
In response to Gerlicher’s question if the “letter” was sent up, Klukow responded “Yes” twice. The second time he noted it was “Approved by [Erick] Fors” and spotlighted a partnership with Minnesota’s National Guard. Klukow signaled the development of a plan and said they were waiting for Lieutenant Colonel Jon Dotterer’s “green light that NG [National Guard] leadership approves of that plan.”
Two hours after forwarding Williams’ PPT to Blackwell, Klukow sent another message to Blackwell asking her to send the document “to LTC Dotterer as well” and saying that he thought Teeter and his unknown friend were potentially shooting from their car: “No plates on the car and men in the back who were possibly shooting out of the back during the riots on Weds night.”
Communications show that Blackwell forwarded the original PPT to at least two majors in the Minnesota National Guard – Allan Hetteen and Chad Paulson. Hetteen responded at 2 a.m. the next morning saying “So if I read this correctly, the boogaloo boys were here in May/June, and this last week too?”
Unicorn Riot did not receive any communications that show a response to Hetteen’s question. Yet, it’s known that Teeter stayed in the Twin Cities area after the uprising due to the federal investigation where undercover FBI agents set up a fake weapons transaction with Teeter and another Boogaloo Boi. This led to federal charges – more on that below.
In one of many replies by Lt. Jonathan Hoff of the Strategic Information Center (SIC) to officer Williams’ PPT email on August 29, Hoff mentioned that they saved the video and “other law enforcement partners are also aware.” Initially, Hoff had responded to Williams saying “The SIC is aware of the group, the individual, and the interview. With that said, thanks for the info anyway.”
Williams seemed to take exception to Hoff’s reply. The communications we received had Hoff’s words “thanks for the info anyway” highlighted in an email that Williams sent to Klukow at 10:25 a.m. on August 30 asking why information wouldn’t be shared “instead of being a silo.”
SIC is MPD’s Strategic Information Center, a fusion center for MPD’s intelligence gathering and sharing developed by Lt. Jeffrey Rugel, who’s known for setting up fake sockpuppet accounts to follow activists on social media. The SIC is also linked to the probe that targeted the late municipal whistleblower Al Ditty in 2015. The SIC is located off East River Road and 37th Avenue NE, along the north edge of Northeast Minneapolis.
August 31, 2020
The email exchange between Hoff and Williams led to Klukow arranging a phone meeting with Hoff to chat about Teeter and the info sharing. Klukow then sent an email reply to Williams and officer Billy Peterson saying they spoke and that Hoff initially “didn’t know” the basis of Williams’ PPT. Klukow wrote that he thought Teeter and his unknown friend were “moving around our Weds riot poised in the rear of an unlicensed SUV with a flak jacket and rifle, likely shooting it off.”
Klukow said to Williams that Hoff wanted to make sure that type of “info is always shared through the SIC.”
Lt. Klukow also noted that his and MPD’s Weapons Investigations Unit Lt. Troy Schoenberger’s wires were “crossed” in regards “to MPD and other police personnel working within an active demonstration, protest or riot event,” likely responding to Schoenberger’s earlier email saying “Avoid enforcement action IF POSSIBLE (sic).”
September 1, 2020
Continuing the trend of sharing the information with government agencies, two days MPD Officer Jeffrey Waite forwarded Williams’ PPT to MPD officer Michael Honeycutt and U.S. Marshal Trenton Lunstrum. MPD Officer Paul Huynh sent the PPT and other images to Jeanna Steinmann of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Huynh asked Steinmann, “Yo, are these the kids you are investigating?”
Read the communications in the PDF below:
A list of the city employees featured in the emails, a majority them police and many high-ranking officers, are listed as follows: Kevin Angerhofer, Benjamin Bauer, John Biederman, Katie Blackwell, Jeffrey Carter, Troy Carlson, Jason Case, Thomas Conlin, Souphaphone Daoheuan, Nicholas Englund, Erick Fors, Scott Gerlicher, Jose Gomez, Mark Hanneman, Steven Herron, Jonathan Hoff, Michael Honeycutt, Jeremy Hulke, Paul Huynh, Matthew Kaminsky, Jonathan Kingsbury, Mark Klukow, Darcy Klund, Lindsey Kortus, Steven Laux, Adam Lewis, Christopher Lokke, Sean Lessard, Kelly Martin, Jamiel Mohammad, Steven Mosey, Billy Peterson, Lucas Peterson, Joel Pucely, Xavier Rucker, James Jeffrey Rugel, Zachary Seraphine, Andrew Schroeder, Troy Schoenberger, Matthew Severance, Kate Taylor-Edwards, Kenneth Tidgwell, Nicholas Torborg, John Vinck, Jeffrey Waite, and Craig Williams. The Minneapolis City Service Center, Gun Violence Response Unit, and Mike Jerde of Hennepin County were also sent communications surrounding the Boogaloo interview.
Also featured in the emails are Majors Allan Hetteen and Chad Paulson, and LTC Jon Dotteror of the U.S. Army National Guard. Government agents included: Special Agent Michael Cannizzaro of the FBI, former Assistant U.S. Attorney and now District Court Judge, Julie Allyn, Jeanna Steinman from Homeland Security’s U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, and U.S. Marshal Trenton Lunstrum. (Allyn was appointed to the bench by Gov. Tim Walz in November 2020.)
Background – Boogs in Minnesota
Following the police killing of George Floyd and the uprising that followed, a handful of professed Boogaloo members made immediate news for stationing themselves in front of Minneapolis businesses and being an armed guard to attempt to prevent goods from being stolen. A few of those members were from different states and some, like North Carolinian Benjamin Teeter, stayed in the area after the uprising was quelled.
After the uprising, aside from a few times in 2020-21 when a professed Boogaloo member or two participated in anti-racist or anti-police protests in the Twin Cities, there have been no public Boogaloo actions or sign of a wider movement.
Media perceptions of the role of white supremacist and Boogaloo movement in the uprising are skewed due to three high profile criminal cases filed on a handful of Boogaloo members in Minnesota — it’s led to exaggerated beliefs among some in the public that the uprising and related property damage were primarily driven by white supremacist and shadowy outside actors.
While there were a handful of Hawaiian shirts seen roaming Minneapolis streets amongst the tens of thousands of people during the first nights of the uprising in late May 2020, their numbers were very limited and our on-the-ground live streams from the Third Precinct verify this.
Ivan Hunter, a 24-year-old self-professed member of the Boogaloo Bois, drove from Texas to Minneapolis and arrived late night May 28, 2020, after the Third Precinct was in the community’s hands. Hunter fired his rifle into the building – he was one among hundreds of people shooting their guns that night. He bragged about it on social media and eventually pled guilty to a federal riot charge and was sentenced to 52 months in prison. Hunter was also in communications with California Boogaloo Boi and Air Force sergeant Steven Carrillo, who killed a security guard in Oakland after using a Black Lives Matter protest as cover on May 29, 2020.
The other major case involving professed Boogaloo Boi members was that of Michael Solomon and Benjamin Teeter. The now 32-year-old Solomon, of New Brighton, Minnesota, and Teeter, now 23, were arrested together after an FBI sting and both pled guilty to “conspiring to provide material support and resources, to Hamas, a designated foreign terrorist organization, for use against Israeli and U.S. military personnel overseas,” according to the U.S. District Attorney’s Office. Hamas was never actually involved in the case — it was a cover story devised by federal investigators.
Because of Solomon’s cooperation with authorities, providing “substantial assistance to the government,” he was given seven years less than initially requested, and sentenced to three years in prison on March 10, 2022.
According to the feds, Solomon and Teeter first met with a “confidential human source” on June 10, 2020, and by July 30, 2020, they delivered 3-D printed ‘auto sear’ weapon parts to an undercover FBI agent. Auto sears are generally illegal in the U.S. to install into firearms and can convert a semi-automatic weapon into a fully “auto” machine gun mode. The pair were indicted and arrested in early September 2020.
Before being rounded up by the federal authorities and while Teeter was protecting a Northside business during the George Floyd Uprising, Solomon was out protecting a Southside tobacco shop and said to journalist Max Nesterak, “It’s about damn time that some heavily armed rednecks stood with fellow citizens.”
Suburban Surveillance of Michael Solomon
While Solomon and Teeter were in the midst of being set up by the FBI agents posing as militants from Hamas, a State Department-designated terrorist organization, an email exchange between New Brighton’s Deputy Director of Public Safety Trevor Hamdorf and St. Anthony Police Captain Jeff Spies from July 19, 2020, indicates suburban police departments were keeping tabs on Solomon. (St. Anthony and New Brighton are suburbs north of the central Twin Cities.)
Captain Spies sent a forwarded email, originating from New Brighton Police Officer Cody Amberg, to the whole St. Anthony Police Department in which he added to be aware “for officer safety information” and stated he didn’t “see any contacts in the LETG,” indicating that he searched for Solomon’s name in the Law Enforcement Technology Group (LETG) dispatch system.
The documents we received featured Solomon’s name and address covered with a yellow highlighter and then a black marker in attempts to redact the information.
Backdrop to August 26, 2020
Several incidents of violence preceded the days of Minneapolis unrest on August 26. On August 23, Jacob Blake was shot seven times by Kenosha Police, paralyzing him from the waist down. Kenosha is in the southeastern part of Minnesota’s neighboring state, Wisconsin.
The next day, thousands marched in Minneapolis in protest. After the march, MPD targeted and arrested a group of youth activists, leading to over a dozen arrests throughout the night of August 24.
Meanwhile, in Kenosha, the police shooting led to days of fiery protests and a mass shooting by a white teenage wannabe militia member, Kyle Rittenhouse, that killed two and injured another on August 25. (Rittenhouse was later found not guilty of all charges by a nearly all-white jury after a contentious televised trial.)
One night before the Teeter interview during the downtown unrest, Rittenhouse was acting in the exact manner that Boogaloo members did during the George Floyd Uprising in Minneapolis when they attempted to control space around private businesses. The Boogaloo members stood armed with several other white men in militia gear in what seemed to be direct opposition to the anti-racist protesters.
During this time, many in Minneapolis had traveled the 5.5 hour ride to Kenosha to take part in the anti-racist protests. Many others followed livestreams of Kenosha protests, so community members in the Twin Cities were aware of the emergence of armed white militia-types; many were on edge as tensions continued to simmer.
During the evening of August 26, a large march for Lionel Lewis took place, starting downtown and ending over northeast. Lewis was 26 when he was killed after a police interaction in northern Minnesota in 2002. His cause of death was listed as “excited delirium,” just as in the case of Nekeya Moody, who died after a struggle with Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office deputies in February 2020.
The downtown suicide of the man wanted for murder happened around the same time that the Lionel Lewis protest was walking down the historic Stone Arch Bridge, a pedestrian bridge over the Mississippi connecting downtown to Northeast Minneapolis.
More on the August 26, 2020, Teeter Interview
As the night continued to delve into chaos, Teeter and his unknown accomplice were spotted driving through downtown without their license plate. Despite tension on the streets, they pulled over and eagerly spoke to Unicorn Riot.
They said they wanted to “keep the protesters safe.” Teeter said he was around during the George Floyd Uprising and was on the side of the protesters.
When asked about Kyle Rittenhouse’s mass shooting the night before, Teeter said they did intel on Rittenhouse and “that’s what [Kyle] came there to do” – to shoot people. He continued, “that’s not what we’re about.”
“Dude, we figured out who he was about 30 minutes after it happened. We had Intel teams on it. Guy had a page full of thin blue line shit. Fucking police cadet. Mom was a cop. That’s what he came there to do. That’s not what we’re about. We’re with the Boojahideen.”
Benjamin Teeter on Kyle Rittenhouse – August 26, 2020
When asked further about the Boogaloo Bois, the men said “anybody that’s a true Boogaloo person is against the police” and that they aren’t racist, “a true boog person is for everybody. Liberty and justice for all. Not a select few.” They said Boogaloo is made up of local cells and they were a “part of the Minnesota branch.”
Three days after this interview and months into being set up by a confidential informant working for the FBI, Teeter and Solomon gave 3-D printed suppressors to an undercover FBI agent posing as a Hamas operative; Teeter and Solomon also hoped the undercover agent would support the Boogaloo Bois financially. In December 2020, Teeter pled guilty to one count of ‘conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization (Hamas).’
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