Juan Cadavid, a.k.a. Johnny Benitez, a supposed “alt right” figure, is hosting a rally entitled “America First! Electric Vigil for the Victims of Illegals and Refugees” on Sunday, 6:30 PM at Laguna Beach. On August 9, Cadavid announced that Tim “Treadstone” Gionet, a.k.a Baked Alaska, would be speaking at the rally. NPR reported that Gionet holds anti-Semitic views and the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi publication, came to Gionet’s defense when organizers of the DeploraBall rescinded his invite. Newsweek listed Gionet as one of the speakers at the Charlottesville so-called “Unite the Right” white supremacist rally.
Who is Johnny Benitez?
According to the OC Weekly, Benitez is actually Juan Cadavid and only adopted his Benitez “alt right” persona some time after November 2016. During this time, he appears to be an ardent supporter of Donald Trump and “alt right” ideology that bolsters white supremacist, neo-Nazi, sexist, anti-LGBTQ+, and racist views. The Orange County GOP disavows him over his anti-Semitic views. He jokes about slaughtering Middle Eastern civilians. In the past, Cadavid supported progressive causes, such as OC Occupy, the Justice for Kelly Thomas movement, and just last November, spoke to people about starting an anti-fascist or antifa group. He once spoke to the OC Weekly saying, “If there’s one positive thing about [supporters of Thomas], it’s that people realize that sometimes their political, sexual orientation and class differences are not nearly as important to them as they thought when faced with a real issue.” In October 2016, “he spoke at the Orange County Department of Education as a former Laguna Hills High School football player in favor of ending invocations and removing ‘In God We Trust’ from meeting quarters.” Last year, he donated to the Bernie Sanders PAC and the Sanders related Brand New Congress PAC.
What Can I Do About This “Alt Right” Rally?
You can do one, some, or all as long as you take ACTION (no order of preference)
- Attend the Unity Rally on Saturday, August 19 at Laguna Beach. Hosted by Indivisible OC 48, Indivisible OC 46, and Together We Will Orange County, stand in solidarity with Charlottesville with one clear, loud message, “Hate is Not Welcome Here!”
- Donate to the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, fundraising organized by Kristin Wood-Page. The American Civil Liberties Union “most often serve those whose rights are consistently denied or compromised including students, women, prisoners, immigrants, communities of color, LGBTQ people, members of minority religions, people with disabilities, individuals experiencing homelessness, and economically disadvantaged people.”
- Donate to a group of your choice, such as Orange County Immigrant Group United, Southern Poverty Law Center, International Refugee Assistance Project, Black Lives Matter, NAACP, Anti-Defamation League of Orange County, Human Rights Campaign, Planned Parenthood, and many others
- Attend a direct counterprotest on Sunday, August 20 at Laguna Beach. Hosted by the Democratic Socialists of America-Orange County. “We are working on security with deescalation and safety being our first priority. We have been in touch with the Laguna Beach PD and will have volunteers to walk people to their cars to get home safely. We will have volunteers and marshals throughout the crowd working to guarantee everyone’s safety. We do not condone the use of violence as a form of political expression, but we will do everything we can to protect counter-protesters from all kinds of threats. Please contact us if you have any special concerns. We want to make the protest accessible for all people, including people of all ages, people with disabilities, and people who want to come but need transportation.”
- Attend non-violence training and a march on Sunday, August 20 in Laguna Beach, starting at 2 PM. Interfaith worship service and march at 5 PM. Organized by Forward Together North County and by local faith leaders of the Orange County Congregation Community Organization. “The action is being organized by people of faith, values and good will to provide support for people who are the targets of hate – this action grounded in the values of justice, love and mercy. This action is lifting up inclusive love and faith in the public square.”
- Write letters to the local press and uphold our values. Don’t let the messages of hate influence and dominate the media narrative.
- Call your member of Congress and ask him or her to renounce this “alt right” rally that bolsters white supremacist, neo-Nazi, racist views. Complicity and silence only embolden the oppressor.
- Make a financial pledge for Orange County Immigrant Youth United. Organized by a group called Resistance Fundraisers. You can pledge money for every rally participant or make a flat donation.
- Attend the Fullerton Day of Action on Saturday, August 19 at 1 PM. Hosted by Myra Miranda and Steven Timberman. “Join us for a vigil this upcoming Saturday outside Rep. Ed Royce’s office in Brea. This is an opportunity to make your voice heard and let the Trump Administration and the GOP Congress know that our communities stand up to hate and racism.”
- Pledge a Protestor. This counter-protest fundraiser was organized by a coalition of citizens working to bring equality and justice to Orange County: Together We Will-Orange County, Indivisible 46 and 48, Women for American Values and Ethics (WAVE), Code Blue, OC Racial Justice Collaborative, Democrats of Greater Irvine and Imagine Action OC.