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June 14, 2023 by JOE ORELLANA

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On June 10th, Santee’s queer community rallied for its first Pride Walk. Hundreds gathered at Santee United Methodist to hear speakers prior to marching down one of the city’s main streets. The rally was surveilled by associates of known far-right figures, as was the march, who also loudly antagonized them.

Mike Forzano and others got into a shouting match with Pride attendees.

As attendees convened on church grounds, a silver sedan pulled into the lot across the street. After a small crowd had gathered, one of the passengers exited the vehicle to take photos of the event. Another passenger spoke into their phone, possibly relating crowd size and position to the far-right group up the road. Some attendees later bragged about the surveillance on social media.

“[W]e had people on every block as soon as they saw us… their march no longer mattered and they exposed themselves,” wrote Exiled Patriots founder Mike Forzano.

Two pride attendees confront a religious heckler. The pride attendees are pixelated to protect their identities. The heckler has a megaphone, a blue hoodie that reads "jesus saves from hell," and a sign. The sign displays the LGBT acronym like an acrostic poem, but the words comprising the acronym are altered to read "Let God Be True." The sign also reads, "He is HOLY, not HORNY SINNER."
One heckler had an unintentionally hilarious sign.

A religious heckler harassed the rally from across the street, shouting homophobic screeds into a megaphone. Some attendees drifted over to try to obstruct the heckler, who continued to yell.

A middle-aged man with glasses stands at a podium in front of a waving pride flag and speaks into a microphone
John Minto, the mayor of Santee, spoke in support of the event and the queer community.

During the rally, the mayor of Santee spoke. He told the crowd that he faced backlash after publicly supporting the event—citing angry calls and emails.

A woman with earrings and a rainbow necklace talks to a reporter as a cameraman films her
Christynne Wood spoke to media before the event.

Christynne Wood also attended. Wood was targeted by a coalition of far-right groups in January for using the YMCA locker room while trans—and was subjected to a litany of lies and smears.

Pride attendees are visible but out of focus in the frame as they pass by the camera. In the distance, a group of far-right hecklers can be seen shouting at the march with a megaphone and filming attendees.
The majority of the attendees marched past the far-right group.
A man in a motorcycle jacket and an America t-shirt films Pride attendees.
A heckler filming Pride attendees.

Robin Nicky Patch and others filmed attendees as they passed an apartment complex on Cottonwood and Mission Gorge Road. A small contingent of attendees attempted to block Patch and others from filming the march.

Robin Nicky Patch films protesters while pointing upward. She is speaking into her phone, and has one headphone in. Pride attendees are visible in frame, but pixelated.
Robin Nicky Patch filmed Pride attendees a few blocks away from the main group of far-right agitators.

Patch ran for El Segundo city council in 2022. She has associated with far-right figures like groyper Thomas Morales, Aaron Simmons and Proud Boy Adam Kiefer.

A man in a blue windbreaker and shorts stands in front of other grim-looking men and women in the middle of the street
Dave Myers, a former candidate for San Diego Sheriff, walked between the agitators and the march for a short time. About seven were stationed in the Taco Bell parking lot and a handful of others came and went.

A group of seven other far-right agitators were posted at the intersection of Cuyamaca and MIssion Gorge Road. They waited to harass Pride attendees outside a Taco Bell. Among them were Mike Forzano of  the groups Exiled Patriots and Defend East County. San Diego LEXIT’s VP, who goes by Carlos, was also with the group. A local told me they’d seen the group there hours prior, in the morning.

Some attendees stood between the counter-protesters and the Pride march. They used umbrellas to obstruct the far-right group’s cameras.

a group of surly men, one in a let's go brandon shirt, stand behind a sheriff's deputy
This deputy arrived minutes into the dispute.

Within minutes, Sheriff’s deputies put themselves between the two groups with their backs to the  far-right group–despite Forzano and others openly carrying knives while the attendees were unarmed.

Forzano standing with his hand raised while people put umbrellas up in front of him
Forzano and others heckled the march.

Forzano has attended numerous far-right demonstrations in Southern California with his current and former crews. He’s been a frequent ally to Proud Boys and white supremacists. He attended the anti-trans rallies in Santee following the hate campaign against Christynne Wood, an anti-choice rally in Santa Monica, and an anti-drag rally in Los Angeles. He also provided security for an event attended by Mike Pomepo in 2021, where he was maced. He admitted to having met with the group Shield of David in a video posted to social media.

Forzano is also a frequent ally to Bob Garland, a member of the Hammerskins offshoot known as American Guard.

Carlos also attended the anti-choice rally in Santa Monica and the anti-trans rallies in Santee. He posed with a group hoisting flags in March—The Christian Nationalist ”An Appeal to Heaven” flag among them. 

LEXIT has recently been losing members. Some of those who left have condemned the group’s violent tendencies. 

“LEXIT has known about the violent tendencies and integrity issues with some of their leaders and members for some time,” former member Carmen Estel said in an instagram story, going on to say that “[w]hen asked to remedy these issues…they chose to do nothing.”

instagram post of forzano looking out over the crowd of marchers with a pizza on the hood of a car. caption says "antifa walking into a nice patriot surprise! they had no idea we were there today watching their every move! the marchers kept it normal and no sexual acts took place. just like we wanted. it's these agitators that stopped by to greet us!"
A still taken from Carlos’s Instagram story in which he brags about surveilling the Pride march.

Both Carlos and Forzano have since bragged about their surveillance on social media. Carlos wrote that anti-fascists had no idea they were being watched by the far-right group, but several attendees indicated that the group was stationed at Taco Bell before the march started. Attendees pointed out spotters throughout the day as well. “No sexual acts took place, just like we wanted,” wrote Carlos. The right has falsely accused the queer community of pedophilia for many years.

pride marchers, one holding a flag over their face, getting blasted by exhaust from a passing pickup truck
Pride attendees struggled to breathe through the smog, but most remained joyful.

On the return trip, several vehicles heckled the march. One vehicle “rolled coal,” or intentionally discharged smog on the marchers twice. Another driver told the attendees to “get out of my neighborhood.” 

Once the marchers made it back  to the church, that morning’s heckler returned. After accusing attendees of pedophilia, they described graphic sex acts and “loose anuses” in detail into the megaphone. 

Since the march, Forzano has attempted to doxx some of the attendees who placed themselves between the counter-protesters and the rest of the Pride event.

The pride marchers pose at the end of the event with their flags and banners
A group photo taken at the end of the event.

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