Virginia Police Chief Defends Accommodating Armed Boogaloo Members at Open Carry Protest

A police chief in Virginia has defended his actions weeks after he was filmed shaking hands, giving a gift of chocolate milk and allowing an armed member of the far-right Boogaloo movement to make a speech outside the department's headquarters while protesting new open carry laws.

On October 15, a number of heavily armed men held a rally exercising their Second Amendment after Newport News passed an ordinance banning the open carry of firearms at city buildings, facilities and parks.

The rally was organized by Mike Dunn, who is connected to the Boogaloo movement, a loose anti-government coalition of far-right and libertarians who are preparing for the downfall of society and for civil war to break out in the country.

Men tied to the movement were arrested in September on suspicion of being part of a plot to kidnap Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer.

On the steps of Newport News police headquarters, chief Steve Drew was seen offering Dunn a PA system to explain why is at the protest, as well as offering him a bottle of chocolate milk.

It was later revealed that the milk was an inside joke between the pair after Dunn requested chocolate milk after he was arrested the previous week for trying to go into Huntington Park with his gun in defiance of the new open carry law, which sparked the protest.

"I think that's his way of apologizing without coming out and apologizing," Dunn said into the police PA system while dressed in a Hawaiian shirt sported by Boogaloo members and armed with his gun.

During his speech, Dunn claimed that he and his men were "completely disregarding" the new ordinance by carrying their weapons outside the police headquarters.

"We're here standing together openly and blatantly defying an unconstitutional city ordinance, and we will keep doing that," he said.

Speaking to the Daily Press, Drew said the men did not break any rules as the protesters did not carry their guns inside the building. Drew added the offer of the chocolate milk was part of a de-escalation plan to ensure that there was no unrest at the rally.

There were no arrests or scenes of violence as a result of the protest.

"I think the citizens should be proud of the department for the way that things were handled," Drew said. "To me, any protest, demonstration or rally that ends peacefully, I think that's the tone we should set."

Aubrey "JaPharii" Jones Jr., who leads the Black Lives Matter 757 group, was also in attendance at the rally. He criticized police for double standards and noted that Black protesters did not receive similar treatment while demonstrating against a Donald Trump rally in September.

"This is a social experiment, and our hypothesis was correct," Jones said. "In my four years of activism, I have never had a police chief offer me a f*****g PA system to come tell them what I am and ain't gonna do. It just hasn't happened."

Drew dismissed claims that his friendliness towards the pro-gun activists, who were mostly white, had anything to do with race.

"And it bothers me that some in social media have tried to turn it into that," he added.

"We don't close our doors to anybody. This department serves the city of Newport News. It doesn't matter to me your age, your zip code, your race or where you live."

On October 27, news outlet NowThis tweeted a clip of Drew and Dunn at the rally with the caption: "This police officer offered help to an alt-right 'Boogaloo' member even though he was openly defying Virginia's open carry law."

The video has since been viewed more than 425,000 times.

Newport News Police have been contacted for further comment.

Boogaloo
A group tied to the Boogaloo Bois holds a rally as they carry firearms at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan on October 17, 2020. A police chief in Virginia has defended his actions weeks after allowing an armed member of the Boogaloo movement to make a speech outside the department's headquarters in October. JEFF KOWALSKY / AFP/Getty