Three Nevadans face terrorism-related charges after allegedly plotting to incite violence at recent protests in Las Vegas over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed while in police custody.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the three men are affiliated with the "Boogaloo" movement, an anti-government extremist group known for its "casual acceptance of future mass violence," as the Anti-Defamation League describes it.
Stephen T. Parshall, Andrew Lynam, and William L. Loomis sought to use explosives to sow chaos and confusion at a protest, among other schemes, according to court documents. They face two federal charges and four state charges, including conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism.
"[The] idea behind the explosion was to hopefully create civil unrest and rioting throughout Las Vegas," the federal complaint stated. "They wanted to use the momentum of the George Floyd death in police custody in the City of Minneapolis to hopefully stir enough confusion and excitement, that others see the two explosions and police presence and begin to riot in the streets out of anger."
An investigation by the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force thwarted the alleged plot to exploit the protests.
Stewart Chang, a professor of law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said the act of terrorism is, legally speaking, all about scale. If someone throws a brick at a liquor store, that’s not terrorism. But, he said, "If you’re throwing the brick at the liquor store window in order to cause a riot, that’s where it would rise to an act of terrorism."
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.