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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

COUNTER-PROTESTS ORGANIZED FOR WEEKEND FAR-RIGHT RALLIES IN LONG BEACH AND O.C.

Poster for "March to End Sanctuary State"

By ABNER HAUGE|LEFT COAST RIGHT WATCH

On April 27th and 28th, two right wing extremist rallies are going to be held Southern California.



April 27th’s “March to END Sanctuary State” in Huntington Beach is organized by a group called “What You Can Do Now.”



Arthur Schaper of the California chapter of Mass Resistance, which the SPLC calls an “anti-LGBT hate group,” will speak as well as Robin Hvidston of The Remembrance Project, which describes itself as “a voice for victims killed by illegal aliens.”



SB-54 is the rally’s legislative target. Under existing law, a description of the measure on the California Legislative Information website says, if law enforcement arrests someone for certain controlled substance charges and they suspect the arrestee isn’t a U.S. citizen, they have to notify “the appropriate agency” that’s in “charge of deportation matters.”



“This bill would repeal those provisions,” the proposal reads.



The march’s organizers said SB-54 “puts ALL Californians at risk,” adding “Our politicians need to stop playing games with our lives and fully fund border security at our southern border.”



Studies by the Koch-backed libertarian Cato Institute and by University of Wisconsin’s Michael T. Light and Purdue’s Ty Miller published in the journal Criminology indicate that statistically, illegal immigrants kill people and commit other crimes at much lower rates than native-born people in the United States.



An opposing rally organized by Occupy ICE L.A. is expected to confront them.



“Racists, white supremacists, and just plain-ignorant haters are planning a rally to oppose California's Sanctuary State status,” their description reads, continuing, “Their aim is to fuel more violence against communities of color by repeating Trump's lies about border emergencies, crime etc.”



“A TROLL WITH AN AMERICAN FLAG AROUND HIS NECK”



The opposition to the rally has good reason to expect racists and white supremacists. For one thing, the SPLC reported that white nationalist Kenny Strawn joined Schaper’s group in July last year. Strawn, according to UK-based anti-hate group Hope Not Hate, tried to start an American branch of the European white nationalist organization Génération Identitaire last year. Generation Identity received over a thousand euros in donations from the Christchurch mass murderer. The SPLC described Schaper himself as a “longtime anti-immigrant and nativist activist.”



“I’ve never seen him get violent, but he’s a harasser,” ‘K’, an activist with Long Beach United Anti-Racist Neighborhood Front (UARNF) told LCRW. “When I first encountered him in 2016, he was going to city council meetings and cutting in and harassing immigrants and immigrant rights activists. And from there, I think people just ate up his YouTube channel because he’s always filming all of it.”



“He’s just a troll with an American flag around his neck,” K said, adding, “I should clarify: I think the potential for his group to get violent is there. I’ve just never personally seen him be violent.”



“People like Arthur Schaper, they’re aware of the fact that they’re a public figure, they’re aware of the fact that the things they’re doing on Instagram could all become evidence against them,” Emma, another UARNF activist said.



Emma recounted Schaper and others backed by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) attending a city council vote in Los Alamitos to withdraw from California’s Sanctuary State policy. That event turned violent, Emma said, and was a turning point for them to take his activism seriously.

Outside the meeting, an anti-immigrant activist shouted “I want you out of my country you illegal alien creep, you weirdo!” Inside the meeting, resident Cathrine Yeh told the OC Register, “There were people sitting behind us saying that the kids were being brainwashed.” Yeh said the group was “yelling at the kids.”



Schaper and MassResistance recently gained attention for disrupting “Drag Queen Story Time” events at libraries around the country, claiming they were part of a long-running anti-LGBTQ+ conspiracy theory that claims LGBTQ+ members are trying to indoctrinate and molest young people. A Houston far-right radio host was arrested after he brought a gun into a library in February this year, claiming “We have a bunch of homosexuals who are molesting children.” He had previously harassed the library because of the Drag Queen Story Time events Schaper's group was whipping up controversy over.



“For people like Schaper, the goal is to not turn violent, not to do anything on camera but to get other people to do it,” Emma said. “The subtext of everything he’s doing is to incite these–whatever the media wants to call them–these lone wolf attacks or random acts of violence against immigrants or LGBT folks.”



Schaper, incidentally, accused LCRW and the Hate Trackers organization of “defending pedophiles and sex offenders” on Tuesday while we discussed a recent Drag Queen Storytime protest by white nationalists with Identity Evropa.



“They probably are targeting children for sexual abuse and exploitation as we speak. SHAMEFUL!” Schaper said.



LCRW’s editor in chief responded by screencapping the tweet and captioning it “lol.”



A “PATRIOT” GROUP PLANS A “FREE SPEECH” RALLY IN LONG BEACH

Since-deleted UPNF Event for the 28th in Bluff Park.

The counter-protest on the 27th has an added sense of urgency because of a group whose members are tied to Unite the Right and allegedly to alt-right podcast Revenge of the Cis.


UPNF announced a rally in Bluff Park in Long Beach set for the day after the “March to END Sanctuary State.” The event was called “Freedom’s Safest Place,” which is also the slogan of the National Rifle Association.



“It was kind of comical because they haven’t really done much research. There’s usually like, yoga that happens in the park that day,” K said. “It was sort of like, out-of-town people who were coming in.”



UPNF member Antonio Foreman said the group will “wear street clothes no body armor or weapons. American flags only. This is a freedom of speech and censorship event. Not a trump event.”



“Traditionally in our area, white supremacists/white nationalists can organize pretty freely down in Orange County in the Huntington Beach area, but Long Beach is a little bit off-limits for them,” K said, continuing, “so I think for them this was sort of like ‘We’re going to go to the heart of whatever and have this rally.’”



“We caught wind of it and started letting the neighborhood know. That was sort of our goal, just flyering a little bit and talking to people in the neighborhood.,” K said.



UARNF and the Long Beach chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) organized a counter-demonstration. Local antifascist crews like Long Beach Antifascist Action spread the word. The campaign gained local attention.

Since-deleted post by Drake Willian Nighswonger.


“See you fucks in April,” UPNF President Drake Nighswonger said on Facebook on March 18th in a post that’s since been deleted.



“It didn’t take long for them to take their page down. How quickly did it go down?” K said.



“It was like a couple weeks,” Emma replied, continuing “They took their page down and the event down and rebranded as “Everything Patriot and Tactical.”



Emma and K laughed after saying the name.



“While we were monitoring it, I think it had like, four or five people going,” K said. “It never really gained traction and I think some of that is just the demographics of Long Beach. They picked a terrible neighborhood for their cause. It’s a pretty liberal neighborhood.”



UPNF has since stopped posting about activism and just shared the same kind of memes and outrage-of-the-day posts as many other right wing groups. Their profile picture still says UPNF on it.



However, UARNF was well aware that so-called “free speech” events by right wing extremist groups often target liberal and leftist spaces and obfuscate what they’re doing publicly. Such was the case in Berkeley, Portland, and Charlottesville. Weeks before the first so-called “Battle of Berkeley” on March 4th, 2017 were filled with confusing and contradictory statements from organizers, wildly different numbers of people showing up and claiming the event wasn’t even happening. At least 80 people showed up on the right-wing side of that rally and it turned into a bloody brawl. UARNF activists told LCRW they’re reaching out to people to act as medics on the ground, just in case.



“We’re preparing for the worst-case scenario,” Emma said.



“We’ll get people out and send a really clear message if they do show up, absolutely,” K said.



“For me, personally, a bigger concern is that LBPD has done a great/terrible job at making sure to show up any place where we’re organizing and we definitely know they’re going to be there that day,” K said. “Definitely there’s a concern for people there of being monitored and surveilled.”



LBPD told multiple outlets they were “aware of the event and at this time it’s too early to say if we will have additional patrols in the area,” adding, “The Department always encourages our community to express their 1st amendment right in a peaceful manner.”



“We haven’t been able to officially confirm their rally is not happening, however from what it looks online, they’ve sort of just merged with the Huntington Beach rally that’s happening,” K said. “So everybody’s just organizing themselves in their traditional locales.”



“I don’t feel like there’s going to be a ton of resistance,” Emma said, guessing that “95% chance there’s not going to be a lot of resistance, 50/50 they don’t show up at all.”



“Before they took the event page down, there was a lot of discussion about the Huntington Beach rally and ‘why are we doing an event that’s so close to that event?’” Emma recounted. “So we know that going to that event was on their radar.”



UARNF and other groups will still show up in Bluff Park and demonstrate in case any extremist groups try to stage a demonstration–and to send a message to the organizers of the anti-Sanctuary State rally.



“We oppose the recruitment of vulnerable, disillusioned young white men in our community and will stand up to protect people of color, LGBTQ+ people, and all others who suffer from violence promoted by far-right and white nationalist groups,” their press release reads.

Press release by UARNF

“So far, our event has gotten pretty broad support from the neighborhood. We expect a lot of people–at least a lot of liberals–to show up,” K said. The counter-rally at Bluff Park is scheduled for 10am on Sunday the 28th.



ARE UPNF REALLY WHITE NATIONALISTS?



United Patriot National Front (UPNF) doesn’t have a website or much of a description on its Facebook page, but the slogan on their logo is “Defendere Gentem,” or “Defend the Nation” in English. They were founded, according to their Facebook page, on November 4th, 2017. The date has some significance because the Revolutionary Communist Party front group Refuse Fascism picked it for a national rally and right wing conspiracy theorists pumped it up as a day of mass chaos targeting white people. By most accounts, that rally was a flop and serious antifascists didn't organize around it.



Al Jazeera called UPNF “a far-right coalition of white supremacists and ultra-nationalists.” The group itself insists it isn’t. It’s Going Down and Al Jazeera reported Antonio Foreman was the head of the group at the time, but other sources indicate Drake William Nighswonger is the group’s current president.
Nighswonger (second from the right), Foreman (second from the left) with the rest of their security team and Infowars' Owen Shroyer (center) in Berkeley.



Foreman, who sells himself as a bodyguard to right wing extremists, is a prominent member of UPNF.



Foreman was at Unite the Right as alt-right/white nationalist internet celebrity Baked Alaska’s bodyguard. He and Nighswonger acted as security for far-right YouTube channel “Slightly Offensive” at a protest against Trump Administration child separation policies in June 2018. He’s also worked security for perennial L.A. area Republican candidate Omar Navarro, who called him a friend. Last August, he was at Amber Cummings’ “No to Marxism 2” rally in Berkeley, where he and his “security team” guarded Infowars’ Owen Shroyer, sometimes shoving counter-protesters during the march. This year, he was working security for Laura Loomer as she trespassed on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Napa mansion and then the Governor’s Mansion in Sacramento with anti-LGBT and racist Fresno-based radio host Ben Bergquam.



Specializing in working with anti-Semites like Baked Alaska, career Islamophobes like Laura Loomer and transphobes like Bergquam doesn’t necessarily make you a bigot or even shape your ideas. Foreman could simply have found a niche market for his work. In response to criticism of his involvement in the event, Foreman took to UPNF’s Facebook.



“Upnf denounces all forms of neo nazi-ism and racism,” Foreman wrote. “We are a freedom loving group and do not intend to bring any violence to any of our events.”



“My participation in unite the right was that of a bodyguard and never start out with violence only self defense,” he added.



Since-deleted statement by Antonio Foreman on UPNF's Facebook page.



But this isn’t the case. Foreman has a history of going on livestreams with groups like the Red Elephants, a white nationalist media outlet poorly masked as a conservative one that promoted neo-Nazi fight club the Rise Above Movement and makes videos about white genocide conspiracies.



A month after Unite the Right, Foreman was in Berkeley during racist commentator Milo Yiannopoulos’s failed “Free Speech Week.” In Berkeley, he was front and center with at least fifty others blocking the door of a Revolutionary Communist Party-associated bookstore in Berkeley, shouting taunts at its trapped employees. In another incident at the same bookstore, Foreman was pushed out by employees after shouting and harassing them.



“Because we keep attacking this bookstore, they keep coming out,” Foreman said in a Red Elephants livestream.



“We’re not attacking–we gotta be careful with our words, man,” Red Elephants’ Rick Write told him.



He and Baked Alaska also recited the neo-Nazi “14 words” slogan on a livestream and then discussed their plans to use coded language to acclimate their “normie” viewers to more extreme political positions.



“1476, that’s what I like to say,” Foreman said in the video. 1488 is a common Nazi code, combining the 14 words and 88, a code that means ‘Heil Hitler.’



“It’s the 14 words and a new revolution in America,” Foreman continued.



“Against cultural Marxism,” Baked Alaska interjected.



“Against cultural Marxism, against feminism, all this bullshit,” Foreman added.



“I think the other one (1488) is fun in private,” Foreman said.



“And it’s a little heavy for people,” Alaska replied.



“Yeah, and it’s outdated,” Foreman said.



“It’s scary,” Alaska replied.



“Okay, how about this, guys,” Alaska told his livestream viewers, “It’s 1476 on the streets and it’s 1488 in the sheets, baby!”



“For people, for normies that can’t really get to the other part, ‘76’ stands for a new revolution against cultural Marxism in our country,”Alaska continued. “So if you guys can get people on to 1476, you’re getting people real close to, um, some good info there.”



“So that’s something Tony (Foreman) came up with–an idea on how to redpill normies,” Alaska concluded. “So I love it. I love it. Let’s try it out.”



Foreman and another UPNF member, Jesse Macias, showed up to harass a bus full of asylum seekers at a church with Patriot Movement Arizona (PMAZ) in January, as PMAZ has done multiple times at least since last year. According to the SPLC, PMAZ are an “anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant hate group.” Foreman said he “busted right through the door” of the church during the incident. He was armed.



In addition to being at the deadly Unite the Right rally, Foreman was at the bloody “Second Battle of Berkeley” on April 15th, 2017 where white nationalists, militia members, and alt-lite groups brawled side-by-side against m80-throwing antifascists. Foreman posed for a photo wearing Oath Keepers militia paraphernalia. The Oath Keepers infamously carried rifles and stood on the rooftops to protect businesses in Ferguson, Missouri after the police killing of black teenager Michael Brown sparked prolonged protests and clashes with law enforcement.



“Our impression is he’s kind of muscle, right?” Emma from UARNF said of Foreman. “If he shows up, there’s a big potential for them to incite violence, which is one of their goals.”



“I definitely feel like down here, some of these people just kind of bounce around and get involved with whatever groups doing whatever thing,” K from UARNF said. “Obviously, Foreman’s a racist, white nationalist, whatever he wants to call himself, but it seems like he’s just looking to bounce around with whatever group is doing a thing, getting involved and starting shit.”



UPNF attended at least one other racist event in the past. In February 2018, the group was part of a rally at Chicano Park outnumbered by counter-protestors. The event was part of a sustained harassment campaign by alt-right and alt-lite groups against Chicano Park, a historical Chicanx/Latinx space. UPNF, Foreman included, attended, as did Patrick Little, the neo-Nazi ex-Marine who ran for Senate in California in 2018 on an explicitly anti-Jewish platform.



Far-right e-celeb Mike Tokes, Vincent James of the Red Elephants, MASS Resistance members Arthur Schaper and Kenny Strawn, Proud Boy and American Blackshirts Party supporter Carl Nieves, and Asatru Folk Assembly adherent and self-described “ethno-nationalist” Michael E Johnston are all listed in the public ‘likes’ of UPNF’s page.



If that weren’t enough, Frank “L.A. Werewolf” Espinoza is allegedly a member of UPNF.



Espinoza is an anti-Semite. He’s associated with the alt-right shock jock podcast Revenge of the Cis (ROTC.) He called someone a “Jew lover” on one of his Facebook pages in March and frequently posts other anti-Semitic statements. Espinoza is a friend of Foreman’s, at least on Facebook. He wasn’t listed on UPNF’s public ‘likes’ page after their rebranding, however.



Espinoza mocked the It’s Going Down article naming him as a possible attendee.



“Please scroll down to the part of my parody photoshop gun/skull mask with a rainbow background. Allegedly I'm Atom Waffen Division. LOLLLLLLLLLLLLL,” he wrote, referring to Attomwaffen, a network of neo-Nazi terror cells with five known murders to its name whose members often wear skull masks like Espinoza’s in the photo.



“Bro you host ROTC....nice!,” Revenge of the Cis co-host Royce Lopez commented.



“I think they think you're Frank. Cuz all Hispanic dudes look alike, right?” Dan Rice replied to Lopez.



“I'll be contacting my lawyer Dr.shekelsteinberg to collect my portion of the revenue. I also want half the discord,” Espinoza said.



It’s not clear whether Espinoza works directly for Revenge of the Cis, which is hosted by Lopez and Mike “Mersh” Schiele. He does work with them, is a frequent guest on their show, and he’s on their “Friends of ROTC” page, along with The Red Elephants. Espinoza did have his own “L.A. Werewolf” channel with over 2,000 subscribers. It appears YouTube removed his content, however. ROTC posted on a February 20th 2018 YouTube video that Espinoza believes “cucked Antifa tattletales” at It’s Going Down mass-reported him.



UARNF members also said David Feiner might show up at the Huntington Beach and Bluff Park events. David Feiner is a reporter for The Red Elephants and a member of Cal State Long Beach’s Turning Point USA Chapter. Feiner is also friends with Samaria Salazar, who helped run pagan Holocaust denier Augustus Invictus’s senate campaign.



“With some of these groups, it almost looks to me like the actual person who we should be concerned about is usually, like, the vice president or some lower-level something,” K said, “because when we started looking into David, he was involved with all kinds of people and has been everywhere.”



“With the exception of [David Feiner,]” K added, “none of these people live here.”



“We all live here. This is the city we live in.” they said. “They’re L.A. people, they’re Inland Empire people, they’re Orange County people, they’re not from here. I was glad to see how many people in Long Beach cared about that.”



THE WHITE POWER YOU DON’T SEE

American Identity Movement (AKA Identity Evropa) stickers and flyers at UCLA.


In terms of white nationalist and right-wing extremist organizing in their area, however, Emma said they’re most concerned about Identity Evropa (IE), now rebranded as the American Identity Movement.



IE’s founder used the “Second Battle of Berkeley” as a “test run” for Unite the Right. In its aftermath, the group rebranded, tried to distance itself from street violence and doubled down on trying to appear clean-cut and moderate. Some more overt white nationalists call them “optics cucks”–people who won’t publicly “name the Jew” or wear swastikas and instead try to appeal to respectability. IE’s activism, usually flyering and stickering, minimizes public appearances and they try to keep membership in the group anonymous secret beyond their public-facing, media-savvy leaders.



“We literally have not seen any actual person. They’re very underground. We see them putting their flyers up,” Emma said, adding, “their organizing is set up towards anonymity which we know is set up towards violence.”



“A lot of the Identity Evropa/American Identity Movement activists can be people from L.A. but go down to Orange County and organize with people who can be more open down there,” K said.



Identity Evropa also creeps in to more official right-wing channels of power. They phonebanked for white nationalist and Iowa congressman Steven King and planned to use Turning Point USA, a nationwide right-wing campus organization, as grounds to recruit.



THE OTHER WHITE POWER YOU DON’T SEE



“The problems in Long Beach are more with the fact that a lot of these people are invested in businesses and stuff like that–gentrification, to use a buzzword, which can impact people of color, working people,” Emma said.



“Even though we’re focused on opposing this rally, just fighting white nationalism and open displays is not enough to combat racism. There’s other fronts,” Emma continued. “When there’s a ballot measure on the line, the older white population will come out to defend their interests, which are not the interests of people of color in Long Beach.”



K said that traditionally, most white power organizing happens in coastal Orange County–Newport Beach and Huntington Beach. They haven’t heard of something this organized happening in Long Beach before. While it’s historically been pretty liberal, the adjacent city of Lakewood to the north has a long history of segregated housing policies. “It flew under the radar as a super racist city for years and years and years,” they said.



“I grew up here and I’ve never seen anything here that was really organized,” K said, “which is why personally I feel really strongly about doing this kind of work here.”




“We don’t see a lot of Blue Lives Matter flags here,” Emma added, “but if you go to Orange County, you see them everywhere–it's a big tip-off to where people stand and where the culture is.”


“We know these people are there and they’re kind of under their rock. Every once in a while you might drive through Lakewood and see a Confederate flag or something like that, but I’ve never seen people try to organize here,” K said.


“Which is why I think that it’s critical that even if they don’t show up that we just show up with as many people as possible to just send the strongest message we can–that anybody that tries this is going to be met with a huge amount of resistance.” 

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