The three masked men left the scene in a vehicle registered to Porterville after police interaction
by Christianna Marks and Camile DeVaul
ATASCADERO — On Saturday, July 22, on the corner of Highway 41 and El Camino, a group of men wearing ski masks congregated with a sign proclaiming “White Pride.” Though not confirmed, there is speculation that the group is the same one that held its banner over the Vineyard Drive overpass bridge in Templeton this past May.
Atascadero News was sent a video posted to YouTube of a conversation between an unnamed man who approached the “White Pride” group. The video uses aggressive and vulgar language throughout and will not be linked in this article.
The three men, dressed in jeans, black long-sleeve shirts, white hats, and white masks, held up a sign that read “White Men Unite” with a variation of an “Othala Rune” symbol. As this paper previously reported, the symbol is essentially ancient Germanic language for “heritage; inheritance, inherited estate,” and rune translates to a “letter in a set of related alphabets known as runic alphabets native to the Germanic peoples.” The symbol has historically been used and manipulated in Europe for symbols like the swastika and Celtic cross, later being appropriated by the Nazi party and neo-Nazis.
However, this time the sign had an additional detail, a Telegram link “T.ME/CA_BLACKSHIRTS” — an encrypted messenger app.
The “California Blackshirt” messenger group describes itself as “an anonymous and peaceful Pro-White activist group advocating for the security and survival of the European Race.” As of Tuesday, July 25, it has 28 subscribers.
In the video, one of the masked men confirms he is 35 years old. He tells the videographer, “I want an ethnostate. I don’t want to live around non-whites. I want non-whites to live around their own.”
He continues to say that he does not have a political plan to propose but says, “I want white people to be proud of themselves.”
The three men were frequently seen issuing the Nazi salute as documented in videos posted on social media by witnesses.
When pressed on why they continue to wear the masks, the man responds by saying, “Who we are isn’t important, it is the message,” and that he is, in fact, a fascist but not a white supremacist, adding, “I am a proud white man.”
Atascadero resident Jerry Goana also approached the masked men after seeing them while he was running errands around town. Goana had previously heard of the men when they stood on the Vineyard Drive overpass in May and was curious to learn more about who they were and what they were about.
“I just wanted to ask him a lot of questions, and I was genuinely curious about if it was just him proud of his heritage,” said Goana. “I’m fine with that, but if it was anti-other-heritage, I’m not OK with that.”
Even though he disagreed with them, Goana attempted to learn more about the three masked men on a human level. He learned that allegedly their ages were 35, 32, and 28. One works as an ironworker, one is in tech, and the other refused to comment.
Goana, who is mixed race, has a grandfather who was a member of the Ku Klux Klan and Atascadero’s first Grand Marshall of the Colony Days parade.
“I shared with him my past. My grandfather came to Atascadero in the early 1900s, and he was … he used to go to KKK meetings. He was defiantly a racist. Great guy amazing guy, but he defiantly did not like people other than white people,” he explained. “He loved me and my brother. We were half black, half white. He had no choice, right, because my mom married a black guy. He had a hard time with that.”
Goana left, encouraging the men to have an open mind, find a different perspective, be OK with being wrong, or change their minds down the road.
Atascadero News reached out to Atascadero Police Department (APD), who did arrive on the scene following a verbal confrontation between residents and the masked men.
APD spokesperson Terrie Banish told ATN, “The activist group was here and refused to be identified because they were not committing a crime. They were confronted by some local community members, and APD responded to keep the peace. When APD arrived, they made sure the parties were separated and the group left in their vehicle that was registered out of Porterville.”
Atascadero News is following this story and will provide more updates as they become available.