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On the first anniversary of the Capitol Riot of 2021, a group of about 40 pro-Trump rally-goers went to Beverly Gardens Park in Beverly Hills to speak glowingly of the day in Washington where two pipe bombs were placed and nearly 150 officers and uncounted others were injured in clashes with a crowd that breached the barricades of the nation’s capitol. Speakers and attendees included multiple people present at the Capitol Riot, including Siaka Massaqoi, Tony Moon, Christopher Brow and Gina Bisignano. All spoke positively of the event and many hailed Ashli Babbitt, the woman shot by a Capitol policeman after attempting to climb through a smashed window leading to the Speaker’s Lobby. Several interviews with reporters for LCRW showcase the mindset of the Southern California’s far right.
Before the rally, prominent right wing “Beverly Hills Freedom Rally” organizer Shiva Bagheri announced she would be running for Beverly Hills City Council and called for attendees to “make January 6 Ashli Babbitt Day.” Though she’s previously run afoul the Beverly Hills judicial system for holding assemblies without a permit in the space, she was granted a permit for the day. However, parking on nearby side streets was restricted from 6AM to 6PM. In a social media post, Bagheri called for the event to be peaceful in one breath and thanked a Capitol rioter who’s attacked multiple female reporters and activists in L.A. in the next.
“Thanks To The Beverly Hills Police Department & Rooftop Korean who will be there protecting us!” Bagheri said.
“Rooftop Korean,” a.k.a Tony Moon, built a brand for himself among the far-right by assaulting women. Moon assembled a street gang called “Rooftop Korean Security” which attended a failed Proud Boys rally in San Pedro last October. Moon made it at least to the steps of the Capitol Building on the 6th last year. Later last year, he was filmed using a water bottle to hit a counter-protestor and ripping the mask off of journalist Tina Desiree-Berg while directing others in the crowd to “unmask them all.”
A brief counter-protest began an hour before the event, with approximately a dozen marching “RevComs,” a splinter Communist party centered around the cult of personality of its leader, Bob Avakian. The small group marched through the shopping areas of Beverly Hills, occasionally handing out literature about Avakian’s beliefs. A group of rally goers followed a short distance away filming. When the RevComs approached the area near pro-coup rally-goers, both sides yelled at each other for several minutes. Shortly thereafter, the RevCom group marched back into the shopping area of Beverly Hills.
Flyers said Bagheri was announcing a run for City Council in Beverly Hills, but in interviews shortly before the event Bagheri announced that she would not officially announce her candidacy “until my paperwork is done.” She also suggested that she “might wanna find someone else who will take that position.” When asked at the event if she’s still going to run, Bagheri stated she “will file, but can’t discuss it because there’s rules.” When asked about Babbitt, Bagheri said she died “standing up for our constitution and for our elections” and repeated conspiracy theories about the election being stolen. Later in the day, she suggested she wanted to make Beverly Hills a “2nd Amendment Sanctuary City.”
Siaka Massaquoi is an actor probably best known for several appearances on the right wing disinfo outlet PragerU. He said the deadly coup attempt a year ago was “a lot of love, a lot of fun.” When on stage later, he described the event as “singing, dancing and praying,” and began describing the American Flag near the scaffolding at the US Capitol. Though his house was raided by the FBI, he currently faces no charges for being present at the US Capitol Building last year. In a stream during the riot, Massaquoi can be seen smiling alongside other demonstrators inside the building.
Bruce Boyer says he is running for Sheriff of Ventura County. Boyer previously unsuccessfully sued the county to be allowed to run for Sheriff without any law enforcement experience, so it’s unclear to LCRW how he plans to appear on ballot. In November, Boyer filed a lawsuit against the Ventura Sheriff’s Department alleging a free speech violation after he was escorted off the stage and arrested while espousing conspiracy theories regarding the 2018 Borderline Bar & Grill mass shooting that resulted in 11 patrons dead. Speaking at the event, he said that the smaller-than-expected crowd’s freedom of speech was “stripped away from them” because their permit restricted parking spaces. A small chorus of rally-goers replied, yelling “communism.”
Gina Bisignano’s plea deal made last July didn’t deter her from attending the rally. She faces a possible sentence of 41 to 51 months for her participation in the Capitol riot. During the coup attempt, the Beverly Hills salon owner wore a Louis Vuitton scarf as she shouted to other rioters, “Everybody, we need gas masks, we need weapons. We need strong, angry patriots to help our boys, they don’t want to leave. We need protection.”. Bisignano was unavailable for comment.
At press time, Los Angeles City Council candidate Kristina Irwin and Congressional Candidate Derrick Gates were listed on the flyer but have not responded for comment. Gates did not attend the event.
As the event went on, a group of rally-goers began to heckle multiple photographers. Speeches began to tail off, while a group of several rally attendees began harassing and occasionally threatening photographers in the area. Harassment, threats and even assaults happened during the event for nearly an hour. One rally goer told two female journalists with accredited press passes that he would “love to smack you around.” Rocky Romano, a documentary filmmaker who was previously assaulted last year at a far-right rally, was told “I will break your face,” by Daryl Grant Murrey.
Daryl Grant Murrey was identified as an attacker in involved in several assaults in Beverly Hills as well as Portland. In 2020, he assaulted a National Lawyer’s Guild oberserver in Beverly Hills just feet from where he was seen threatening members of the press. He was part of a group of men who menaced people at a Torrance City Council meeting in 2019. During that meeting, he was filmed shoving a man. He also participated in a rally last August alongside Proud Boys and other nationalist groups, where he was videotaped screaming “any left wing pig should die.”
Antifascist activist Chad Loder, who was not in attendance, had their name spoken on at least 30 occasions in the 3 hour rally. Several rally-goers implied they were going to damage Loder’s home throughout the day. Multiple photographers were accused of working for them.
This reporter had a recording device forcibly turned off, with rally-goer Aaron Simmons threatening to “fuck [this reporter]’s ass up.” Simmons faces the first leg of an assault trial on Monday, January 10th for hitting documentary filmmaker Rocky Romano in the back of the head with a heavy baton-like weapon during the “WiSpa” protest and counter-protest last July. He also faces a hearing regarding an assault on Chad Loder, a prominent local antifascist researcher, outside the Torrance Courthouse. Simmons approached Romano despite Romano having a restraining order against him after the WiSpa assault. While approaching the Beverly Hills Police Department on scene he was told that they could not enforce due to Simmons’ 1st Amendment Rights. Beverly Hills Police Department told LCRW later in a statement that “we would need to verify the conditions on the restraining order…I would like Mr. Romano to reach out to the Beverly Hills Police Department in person and file a report.”
LCRW later discovered that reporter Tina Desiree-Berg showed the police on scene the restraining order during the discussion.