“Do you know who founded Fallbrook?” organizer Ricardo Favela blurted out on a bullhorn in front of about 60 fellow protestors in a late afternoon rally Monday, July 9.
“Reche,” said one who knew the name of Fallbrook’s founding father.
“Do you know where he was born?” Favela asked.
“Pennsylvania,” came the answer.
“No. He was born in Quebec,” Favela clarified. ”He was a Canadian immigrant. Fallbrook was founded by an immigrant named Vital Reche. Today it might be possible that Vital Reche and his family would end up in a detention center.”
Favela organized this rally to protest the proposed detention camp at Camp Pendleton which reportedly would house up to 47,000.
While public protests against Trump immigration policies are not unusual these days, this one was in Fallbrook, longtime home of world-famous skinhead Tom Metzger who lived here from the late 60s to the mid-90s.
Metzger, a former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard and founder of the White Aryan Resistance or WAR, moved from Fallbrook to Indiana about 22 years ago. His hate-speak landed him in jail. Metzger and WAR were bankrupted following a $12 million civil judgment awarded by an Oregon jury who found WAR influenced the murder of an Ethiopian man.
Favela, 41, was born and raised in Fallbrook. Long before he had Trump, he had Metzger to motivate him to organize public protests.
“When I went to high school it was the height of resistance to White Aryans,” recalls Favela. “Metzger and his group were considered the most racist in country. He instructed his people to go out and do beaner bashings. I lived through that in high school. My friend’s dad got beat up. They went after people who were working in groves.”
Favela was 16, he says, “When I staged my first protest in Fallbrook in 1993. It was over a kid getting beat up by the police. We had a protest that started on Main Street at Builders Emporium [where Grocery Outlet is now]. Metzger was there filming it. People showed up with Confederate flags on their trucks. They yelled ‘Fuck you, go back to Mexico, beaners.’”
Although he says a Minutemen group tried to destroy a local migrant camp ten years ago, Favela says the Fallbrook hate fervor receded when Metzger moved. He says the public reception was a lot nicer for his anti-Trump rally on Monday.
“We didn’t get harassed this time,” Favela tells me. "There were a lot more positive honks than middle fingers or ‘Go Trumps’.”
At the beginning of the rally one man verbally accosted the protestors and aggressively yelled pro-Trump sayings. “I could smell alcohol on his breath,” says Favela. As that man walked away a sheriff deputy pulled him over and spoke to him for about 10 minutes but did not arrest him. Four deputies stayed in the background and did not confront the protestors.
Favela says he got support for this rally from the Fallbrook Democratic Club and a group called Indivisible Fallbrook. The assembled group did call-and-response chants against Immigration and Customs Enforcement/ICE such as “How do you spell Nazi (I-C-E)...How do you spell racist (I-C-E)…How do you spell criminals? (I-C-E).”
Fallbrook’s racist history was news to Luis, 32 and Rodrigo, 26 who both work at a local nursery and happened to be there for the rally. Neither speak English. Through an interpreter, Rodrigo said that they were surprised to see white people standing up for people like them, Mexican nationals working in agriculture.
I asked Favela about recent rumors that Metzger, 80, had moved back to Fallbrook from Indiana. “We’ve been monitoring it,” says Favela about his group called Fallbrook Human Rights Committee. “Recently someone told me he tried to buy an ad in the local paper announcing his comeback but the paper refused. I heard there were some folks in the chamber of commerce who were worried about it…. I think he moved to San Jacinto.”
Metzger runs the website resist.com. As recently as last week he was posting comments on his Twitter account @terribletommy including: “Do not play the popular new game NEGRAPHILIA its a loser,” “Get off your ass white man,” and “I advocate all white women who have decided to have sex with blacks please take advantage of your free abortion opportunities.” Historian Metzger points out that if the South had just used Vietcong style guerrilla tactics it would have won the Civil War.
The heading on Metzger’s Twitter account shows a post office box in San Jacinto in Riverside County, about an hour north of Fallbrook.
Favela says his first Fallbrook anti-Trump rally a week earlier only drew 30 people. “We doubled that this time. It shows that Fallbrook can move past the stigma it has been known for. This time Telemundo, Univision, NBC-7, and Channel 8 showed up to cover us.”