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Aug 23, 17

Laguna Beach, CA: Thousands Mobilize Against Juan Cadavid & his neo-Nazi Friends

On Sunday, August 20, the Proud Boys, Johnny Benitez (real name Juan Cadavid) and his crew, organized a vigil for “victims of illegal immigrants and refugees” to take place on the main beach of Laguna Beach. He also called for “stronger borders”, despite the fact that he has previously stated he is an immigrant himself.

https://twitter.com/Johnny__MAGA/status/867566573195714560

In the a wake of the aftermath and tragedy in Charlottesville that occurred the previous week, various immigrant rights organizations, local clergy, rabbis, members of the Islamic Center in Anaheim, organizations such as Indivisible OC, Brown Berets from East Los Angeles, and Orange County locals all felt compelled to be present in the counter protest as an act of solidarity and defend the area of white supremacy.

The counter protest was mainly organized by the Orange County Democratic Socialists of America, and through their connections to various local groups and organizations and also because several of the members were interviewed by local media, such as the Orange County Register and OC Weekly in order to boost their event. OC DSA also invited members of the IWW, local immigrant activists, antifa, anarchists, and other members of the Los Angeles and San Diego DSA chapter to come forward and speak on the mike.

Although there were concerns about safety and collaboration when they stated “they’ve been in contact with the police” on their FB event post when asked, members stated that they simply contacted them to ask about permits and included that in their statement so they could appeal to the liberal crowd more to show up. And although many radical groups did not want to participate in this counter protest because of this, it is important to note that the more radical presence and security played an immense role in the safety and atmosphere at the event. Online, there were threats of violence being made to the counter protesters that were going to show up.  

https://twitter.com/Kherman112/status/899384368539385856

When the white supremacist arrived (or rather, “conservatives” or just “Trump supporters”, but totally not racists, according to themselves and the Orange County Register), there immediately began a shouting match between them and the counter protesters. But for the most part, no confrontations were made until near the end of the rally.            

One counter protester said that at the beginning of the rally, when there were around 100-150 people, a Mexican worker from a local restaurant spontaneously led the chants with “The People United, Will Never Be Defeated” in English and Spanish. He was on a break and wanted to thank them on behalf of all the Mexican workers who couldn’t make it to the protest.

Later, as the protests grew in size (with its maximum reaching 2,500 counter-protesters, according to various media), a large number of riot cops marched towards main beach, separating the protesters and counter-protesters, and forming a long v-shaped line along the park. There was a half circle of police protecting the white supremacists (of course) and while they had the attention of media and, antifa, and counter protesters, they started to provoke people around them, as seen here in Irma Hinojosa’s (Juan Cadavid’s girlfriend) live stream:

For the most part, Cadavid and his crew [Editor’s Note: Cadavid’s crew includes Hammerskin neo-Nazis who are members of Rise Above Movement. Read about them here] were just yelling about how unfair “liberal media” portrays them, saying “communists” should get out of “their” country, and yelling homophobic slurs to bystanders,

One counter protester pointed out that antifa, trained medics, and various counter protesters that organized the event, were more responsive to the concerns and health of the other counter-protesters than the police were. Police, unsurprisingly, ignored the questions and concerns of the counter-protesters and just stood there. There was an incident where a person needed a medic, so a concerned citizens went to ask police for help and they just stood there.

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There were chants of “Nazis go home”, “No Trump, No KKK, No fascist USA/No Fox News”, and “Cops and Klan go hand in hand” by the masked up antifa.

And while Cadavid and his crew did not display anything that would identify them as obvious white supremacists (other than the American and Trump flags, of course), it was only a matter of time before his “uninvited,” more hardcore neo-Nazis showed up. This is where things got a little awkward for him and the other “conservative Republicans” that denied they had any affiliation with Nazi groups/members to local media, and despite this, their more obvious white supremacist friends joined their group and also started to throw slurs at the counter protesters AND chant “white power.” 

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Funnily enough, the dude with the swastika on his neck denied being a racist.

The police were getting more agitated throughout the night. They declared unlawful assembly around 10 when there were several small confrontations between the white supremacists and counter protesters (or maybe because they didn’t want to be there all night) and threatened to arrest people if they did not disperse. Even though the Alt-Right crew were hoping for violent confrontations to take place so they can show it to their followers as proof of the “violent left,” none really occurred.

Overall, the de-escalation and basic first aid training immensely helped with keeping the counter protesters safe. Although this counter protest took on a more liberal approach, many people that participated said they felt a lot safer seeing antifa present and putting themselves in between the counter protesters and the cops and white supremacists.

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Orange County is pretty well-known for its conservatism even for a predominantly white, liberal city like Laguna Beach (not to mention the fact that there are many white supremacist groups in southern California). With this in mind, the turnout for this protest was very impressive and encouraging to see as the tide against fascism keeps growing. It’s important to take this opportunity while the momentum is up and channel it onto recruiting people into your organization or to simply encourage them to become more politically active and show up to rallies as an act of solidarity, as there was a good number of people for whom this was their first time participating in a protest.

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