Juan Cadavid, OC’s own disgraced alt-right activist, reared his bald head in Laguna Beach again after vowing to leave the movement behind. Billing himself in the past as “Johnny Benitez,” he only summoned a smattering of Know Nothings for a Sunday protest of the Kate Steinle verdict in San Francisco that acquitted an undocumented immigrant of murder and manslaughter in the tragic accidental shooting death.
The Main Beach meetup failed to attract media and counter-protesters unlike in August when 2,500 demonstrators dwarfed Cadavid’s sandbox crew. This Sunday’s rally would’ve remained a complete yawnfest, if not for Cadavid’s new banner buds.
A couple of men held up a “Deport Them All, America is Our Birthright” sign during the protest, but it’s not the anti-immigrant slogans that demands the most attention. The emblems on the banner belong to Patriot Front, a new fascist extremist group whose “blood and soil” website says it all. It’s there that folks will find Patriot Front’s “American Fascist Manifesto,” a lengthy, dull screed that reads like it was drafted in the lonely recesses of a dorm room by a flunking poli sci major.
“Democracy has failed in this once great nation,” it predictably states, “now the time for a new Caesar to revive the American spirit has dawned.” Patriot Front formed out of a split with Vanguard America in a post-Charlottesville power struggle. If Vanguard America sounds familiar, James Fields Jr., a violent white supremacist who drove his Dodge Charger through a group of protesters before killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer, had been seen marching with them during August’s Unite the Right Charlottesville rally, though the group distanced themselves from him. Thomas Ryan Rousseau, a Texas teen, tried to wrest control of Vanguard America from leader Dillion Hopper before starting Patriot Front.
The new fascist group’s presence on social media spreads racism and antisemitism in a blue hue. They dropped a “Resurrection through Insurrection” banner over the 405 freeway by the Skirball exit in October before the Anti-Defamation League reported it to authorities. Patriot Front also tweeted a picture on Monday of three obscured members holding the anti-immigrant banner in Laguna Beach. Mission Viejo’s Kenny Strawn (a Weekly Scariest People 2017 honoree) posted a YouTube video of the protest that offers a closer look.
Sunday’s rally called for a moratorium on immigration and mass deportations in decrying the Steinle verdict. Cadavid, who was recently interviewed on NPR’s Latino USA about his supposed Iberian identity politics, organized past protests in Laguna Beach over the summer that attracted hate groups. Rise Above Movement and Hammerskin neo-Nazis have been spotted in the crowds.
Add the fashy Blue Man Group to the list, too.