A MILITARY IMPOSTER’S VIOLENT CAMPAIGN IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
December 24, 2020 by DESERTBORDER | WATERSPIDER
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Fascist street brawler Gabriel Lebaron built TikTok fame through sheer posting volume. Now, he’s using his platform to promote himself as a far-right minicelebrity, while tageting femmes for violence throughout the greater LA area. And he’s also lying about his military record.
Gabriel Anthony Lebaron’s third TikTok of the day took a dark turn.
After posting a video of himself wearing a Christmas hat and holding a Baby Yoda toy, followed by a video of himself lip-syncing Calum Scott’s sappy, maudlin mega-hit “You are the reason,” Lebaron stitched himself into a TikTok with a woman wearing a hijab on an airplane.
The woman sings a line from racist musician Rucka Rucka Ali, referencing the 9/11 attacks, and then the camera cuts to Lebaron’s face. “And in return for those planes into buildings, we rolled grenades into houses, kicked in doors, and levelled shit with airstrikes. Praise Jesus. God bless America,” he says.
The “we” in that sentence, however, does not include Lebaron. Though he did join the military as a young man, he never had the opportunity to carry out his genocidal fantasies. He was kicked out of the Marine Corps after less than two years, without ever deploying overseas.
In response to questions from LCRW, Lebaron claimed that he had in fact deployed twice to Iraq and is currently on the payroll of the Department of Defense. A review of public records detailing Lebaron’s military service, as well as information provided to LCRW by a Marine Corps spokesperson, contradicts Lebaron’s story. According to records obtained by LCRW, Lebaron never deployed further than Cherry Point, North Carolina. If Lebaron has been to Iraq, it was not with the United States military.
Lebaron cultivated an image of himself on TikTok as a dreamboat crooner, building a fanbase of over 28,000 followers by posting hundreds upon hundreds of “duets,” or TikTok split-screen clips where he inserts himself into videos posted by popular singers. He also branded himself a major Disney fan on social media, and uploaded pictures of his large Disney tattoos, one depicting Beauty and the Beast and another from the Disney version of Pocahontas.
Until spring 2020, Lebaron’s posts were entirely apolitical. Following the first round of Coronavirus shutdown orders, he reinvented himself as a far-right social media pundit, posting racist and homophobic memes that occasionally veer into open white nationalism, despite the fact that Lebaron’s father is a Mexican immigrant.
As far-right opposition to the BLM protests mounted, Lebaron became a frequent presence on the LA-area Trump rally circuit. He has harassed and physically assaulted multiple women and femmes in Southern California who he deems to be political opponents of Trump, including one of the authors of this article. And an examination of publicly-available information reveals an extensive history of accusations of domestic violence and harassment, including numerous requests for restraining orders filed against him.
Lebaron joined the Marines in 2004 at the age of 20, starting his service in September of that year, according to information provided to LCRW by a Marine Corps spokesperson. Lebaron was interviewed about his decision to join by the Mountain View Voice, telling the paper that he was working the counter at a deli when a recruiter found him and convinced him to join in his hometown of Antioch, CA. The paper noted that Lebaron became “enamored with the discipline and sense of belonging,” when speaking with the Marine Corps recruiter and he had “hopes to eventually join an amphibious assault unit.”
According to the information provided by the Marine Corps, Lebaron started his service at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, before passing through Camp Pendleton and then Fort Bliss. He ended up with a short stint as a low altitude air defense gunner in Cherry Point, North Carolina, before being separated from the service with the rank of E1, the lowest rank possible in the Marines.
“Lebaron’s premature discharge and rank are indicative of the fact that the character of his service was incongruent with Marine Corps’ expectations and standards,” Marine Corps spokesperson Yvonne Carlock wrote in an email.
Carlock said in a subsequent email that because Lebaron’s discharge was due to administrative action rather than a court martial, the specific circumstances of his discharge were not publicly releasable.
Lebaron initially insisted to LCRW that details provided by Carlock were inaccurate, before admitting that he left the Marines in 2006. Lebaron then claimed that he had served in a second branch of the military after leaving the Marines, but refused to say which one, and that he had deployed to Iraq twice with that second branch.
Public records obtained by LCRW detailing Lebaron’s service make clear that he did not serve with a second branch of the military. The records reveal that Lebaron served in the Marine Corps from Nov. 2004 – Sept. 2006, consistent with information provided by Carlock. For all years after 2006, records list his active duty status as “no,” and his service component as “N/A.”
As evidence of his deployment to Iraq, Lebaron provided LCRW with a partial photograph of his Department of Veterans’ Affairs ID card. This, of course, only proves that Lebaron is eligible for VA healthcare, and does not demonstrate that he deployed overseas.
In an Instagram story posted after LCRW contacted him, Lebaron claimed that he had provided a “Military ID valid 04/2027.” The VA card Lebaron provided shows an expiration date of 04/04/2027.
Lebaron posts frequently about his time in the Marines, but LCRW was unable to find any reference to serving in a second branch of the military on Lebaron’s public social media. Lebaron does not appear to have ever posted photographs of himself in Iraq. Lebaron declined to provide any additional evidence of his service beyond the partial VA card. When LCRW informed him of our public-records findings, Lebaron responded “wtf” and then blocked us.
After his premature discharge from the Marines, Lebaron found himself in trouble with the law back home in California.
Between 2011 and 2017, four different people requested restraining orders against Lebaron in Contra Costa County, including his former wife, with whom he has children, and her next husband. Details from the court files are not available, as the Contra Costa County courthouse was closed due to the pandemic at press time.
The court only allows online searches for civil cases, so it is unclear if Lebaron has ever been charged with crimes in Contra Costa County. Lebaron does have family members accused of serious crimes in the county, however. In 2008, two of Lebaron’s brothers, Daniel and Christopher LeBaron, were reportedly tracked down and arrested for a string of burglaries that took place in homes and hotel rooms across several cities in Contra Costa County.
In 2019, a woman also requested a restraining order against Lebaron in Alachua County, Florida. Lebaron was charged with stalking in that county around the same time, though the charge was later dropped. Lebaron’s connection to Florida is unclear, but public Instagram posts show him attempting to contact the woman two months before she requested the restraining order against him.
Lebaron told LCRW that all the allegations against him in the various requests for restraining orders were false, but did not provide any details.
In April 2019, Lebaron made his first post on his current TikTok account, a video of himself lip-syncing to the auto-tuned melodramatic love song “Way Back Home’’ by SHAUN. Over the next year, Lebaron posted thousands of similar videos, many in the “duet” style. By October of that year, he was at 15.9k followers, and he posted a screenshot of his TikTok follower count on Instagram, along with the caption: “A hundred shy from 16k followers. I’m sooo glad to be such a positive influence on social media. Roadto100k”
He still shied away from political content, though he posted often about the Marine Corps, sometimes giving the impression that he was still in the service 13 years after being kicked out. His current TikTok profile reads “Marine Happily Taken Californian Freedom Of Speech is still a thing.”
Shortly after the first shutdown orders, in March of this year, Lebaron’s feed took a sharp turn to the hard right. On March 22, he posted a video on TikTok of himself lip-syncing along to Donald Trump responding to a question about his use of the racist phrase “Chinese virus,” saying “it’s not racist at all, no, not at all. It comes from China.”
From there, Lebaron’s feed descended further and further into conspiracy theories, racism, homophobia, transphobia and violent fantasies.
In April, he posted a video showing a sign on a store reading “To enter the store you must have face covering,” followed by a clip showing himself in the store without a mask. The caption read “i’m not buying into the hype won’t live my life in fear. #coronavirus #corona #coronaviruschallenge.” In an Instagram post in May, Lebaron wrote “if you launch a bottle of Gasoline at a police officer or their department you deserve to get shot. If you show no value of life that includes burning down a target then don’t cry when you get shot.”
Lebaron also started posting pictures and videos of houseless Californians, accompanied by captions accusing them of being drug addicts. He began frequently posting pictures of himself in Trump hats or holding Trump flags.
In recent weeks, Lebaron has mocked Coronavirus victims, accused Black Lives Matter of being racist, insisted Trump won the election, and promoted white nationalist content claiming that a nationwide campaign asking people to shop at Black-owned stores proves that Black people are unfit to compete in a capitalist system due to genetic inferiority. He has had numerous videos flagged as false for Coronavirus misinformation or election misinformation, and he has complained of having posts deleted for praising right-wing terrorist Kyle Rittenhouse, though he managed to avoid censors with numerous posts praising Rittenhouse and celebrating the murders he committed.
At one point, Lebaron claimed he was being censored by Facebook for “shar[ing] Trump’s victory in PA today.” The screenshot he attached showed three posts deleted by Facebook–one a picture of Kyle Rittenhouse and two that were deleted because they “didn’t follow our Community Standards on harassment and bullying.”
He’s also tied his extreme Disney fandom into his fascist politics, posting a TikTok in November where he claimed Trump’s use of the name “Pocahontas” as a taunt can’t possibly be racist, because Disney released a movie called Pocahontas. “Are you saying Disney is racist? Because if you are, let me know. They’re also talking about doing a live-action Pocahontas movie, so is that racist too?” he asked in the video.
Sometime in the late summer or early fall, Lebaron became a frequent attendee of LA-area Trump rallies. Videos show Lebaron present at rallies in Huntington Beach, Santa Clarita, Tujunga and Beverly Hills.
Lebaron has become such a major presence at LA-area Trump rallies that he was even featured in an Associated Press photograph that ran on news websites throughout the US and Europe. Wearing a Joe Biden mask and waving a flag that reads “Trump 2020: No More Bullshit,” Lebaron told the photographer “Being a Trump supporter in California is hard. I probably had three guns pulled on me in the last six months.” The Associated Press does not appear to have fact-checked Lebaron’s outlandish claim.
It was at one of the Beverly Hills rallies that he first accosted the authors of this article. We had both been attending the Beverly Hills Trump rallies at the Beverly Gardens Park for months. Typically we would go for just a couple of hours and capture some of the absurdity we witnessed. By October it became too dangerous for us to show our faces at all, primarily thanks to Lebaron.
The first time one of us met him was at a Back the Blue event sponsored by LAPD in mid-October. Lebaron was shouting far-right talking points and conspiracy theories, so BLM counter protesters began to film him. He mentioned that his father was an immigrant from Mexico so while filming, one of us asked what he thought about the children in cages. He then put his maskless face in the camera, shouting “if Mexico’s so great, then why does the fucking people abandon it by the thousands? Because it’s a shithole!”
Later that day, he spotted me (Waterspider) at the Beverly Hills Trump rally, and turned and shouted, “I’ll take care of you later.” At this point, I should note that I’m a female, and much smaller than Lebaron.
Lebaron made good on that threat just a week later, when he body slammed me at the next Beverly Hills rally. He recognized me from the week before and as I tried walking away from him, he followed me into a corner of the Beverly Gardens park. At that point both authors of this article were together and Lebaron managed to attract a crowd, insisting that we were “Antifa,” despite the fact we were dressed in normal street clothes and had not said a word to anyone at the rally. Lebaron lied repeatedly when confronted about threatening a woman, claimed to be “in the military” even though he hadn’t been for fourteen years and yelled that he was willing to go to jail for beating us up. After body slamming me, he walked away laughing. Even some of the other Trump supporters at the rally were alarmed by Lebaron’s actions.
We found it impossible to attend subsequent Beverly Hills rallies, because Lebaron would find us immediately and attract a crowd of fascists to chase us out. We tried to report him for assault and violent threats to the Beverly Hills Police Department two weeks later, and they told us his violent attack on Waterspider was a “stale misdemeanor” and that they would do nothing to protect us in the future.
It was not Lebaron’s only instance of violence and harassment at a pro-Trump rally. In a November rally in Santa Clarita, Lebaron mocked an activist as they were surrounded by an angry fascist mob, misgendering them and yelling “She’s so triggered! She’s so triggered!” Lebaron subsequently dug up pictures of the activist as a child and posted them on his Instagram, encouraging his followers to harass them and falsely accusing the activist of attacking a Black woman. Someone claiming to be a friend of Lebaron then messaged the activist and asked them to take down their posts mentioning Lebaron in exchange for Lebaron taking down his posts about the activist. The activist replied they already had taken their posts down, and then Lebaron took down his posts about them.
Then, in early December, Lebaron threatened a female activist with the group Against Bigotry, Responding with Action (ABRA) with a large rock. The activist told LCRW that she had attended a counter-protest against a Trump gathering in the North LA neighborhood of Tujunga. Someone not involved with the protest drove by playing “Fuck Donald Trump” and pulled into the parking lot where the counterprotesters were standing. At that point, Lebaron crossed the street holding a rock and threatened the counterprotesters.
Lebaron did not respond to questions about any of the specific instances of violent conduct mentioned in this article, except to claim that he did not assault a woman in Beverly Hills. He offered LCRW $300 for video proof of the Beverly Hills assault. LCRW did not accept any money from Lebaron.
Lebaron repeatedly referred to this article as “fake news” and issued blanket denials for everything in it. But he also admitted, unprompted, to another incidence of violence, referencing an altercation with a “fat white boy” and his “butt buddy.” Lebaron claimed he was not at fault for the incident, but did not provide further details.
Desertborder is an LA-based researcher who really, really hates fascism. You can find him on Twitter @desertborder. His Cash App is $fuckgarcetti.
Waterspider (she/her) films and writes about right-wing chaos in Los Angeles. You can support her work on Cash App at $AWaterspider.
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