On Aug. 1, 2020, on the steps of the California Capitol, the far-right “Rescue America Rally” gathered hundreds of angry Trump supporters to hear an array of equally provocative speakers. But despite a steady stream of extreme rhetoric, local coverage by the Sacramento Bee and two TV outlets suggested this to be just a simple conservative assembly.
Omitted from the sanitized coverage was any mention of the many references to demonic liberals, to an Auschwitz-like furnace, or an audience call to kill all Democrats. We covered this dereliction of journalistic duty in the lead article of our debut issue. Later, we exposed that one of the rally organizers – a GOP-endorsed Congressional candidate – had used a former strategist from a large U.S. hate group to train his campaign staff and volunteers.
It has now been six months since the rally. Following the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot, the Bee and TV outlets have finally started covering area extremists. (See this recent story and this piece.) But as a reminder of how unusually extreme the Aug. 1 rally was, here is a roundup of the surprising activities since by many of the speakers that day:
Then: Rally co-organizer, national speaker
Today: Arrested for part in siege of U.S. Capitol
Founder of the “WalkAway” campaign, Brandon Straka toured the country claiming to be helping droves of voters defect from the Democratic Party for the GOP. At the Aug. 1 Sacramento “Rescue America Rally,” Straka told his story of going from lifelong liberal to a Trump true believer and how the country is being taken over by radical-left mob violence. Last week this proselytizer for conservative law-and-order was arrested for breaching Congress on Jan. 6.
Then: Rally co-organizer, emcee, Congressional candidate
Today: Under FEC scrutiny, suing California for election fraud
GOP-endorsed Congressional candidate Buzz Patterson* co-organized the rally. Since then, this publication exclusively reported he trained campaign staff and volunteers using a former national strategist with one of the largest U.S. hate groups. His campaign also featured multiple associations with QAnon, and he now faces FEC penalties for failing to disclose $300,000 in campaign donations. Not to be cowed, Patterson joined a Jan. 4 lawsuit claiming his candidacy was victimized by “result-changing fraud and irregularities” in California’s November election, including via the Dominion voting system.
State Senator Shannon Grove
Then: Rally speaker, State Senate Minority Leader
Today: Conspiracy theory promoter, ousted from Senate leadership
At the time of the Aug. 1 rally, Shannon Grove served as the Republican State Senate Minority Leader. A major Trump supporter from Bakersfield, she tweeted on the day of the Jan. 6 D.C. riot the conspiracy theory that the riot was perpetrated by antifa. Following negative media coverage, she deleted the tweet, but two weeks later, her Republican caucus replaced her as Minority Leader with a moderate.
Then: Militia-friendly rally speaker
Today: Defending his role at and after Jan. 6 D.C. riot
Founder of a San Diego group called 1776 Forever Free, Cordie Williams spoke at the Aug. 1 rally about Democrats leading Americans toward an Auschwitz-like furnace. At the time, his group’s home page featured images and symbols associated with the Three Percenter militia movement, which used assault rifles to guard marchers at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. More recently, Williams attended the Jan. 6 riot in D.C. He has said he didn’t enter the Capitol but called those there patriots. After the riot, he encouraged others by video to arm themselves for a coming civil war. In a TV interview he explained, “I went to D.C. because I feel there are some forces at play in this country that are evil and demonic.”
Then: Rally speaker, Congressional candidate
Today: Defeated in general election, now suing state alleging election fraud
The Los Angeles Republican attorney ran against U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff. In his Aug. 1 rally speech, Eric Early characterized America as gripped in a domestic “battle of good versus evil” and said Democrats are communists possessed by evil. At one point, he revved the crowd exclaiming, “We are not white supremacists. We are American.” Since then, he joined Patterson in the election fraud lawsuit.
Then: Rally speaker, Congressional candidate
Today: Denied permit for new election-fraud protest after Jan. 6 riot
Endorsed by the state GOP, Bish ran for Congress against Doris Matsui. She also partnered with Patterson for the campaign training event led by the former hate-group strategist. Despite the chaos of Jan. 6, Bish attempted to organize a follow-up rally to “protest our compromised elections” the weekend before Joe Biden’s inauguration. Her application estimated a crowd of 3,000 people and was rejected for exceeding COVID crowd-size limits.
Then: Pro-Trump Singer, YouTuber
Today: YouTuber, D.C. riot “empathizer”
The African-American singer and prominent YouTube Trump supporter sang and hyped up the Aug. 1 rally. Known for her bright-red Trump-branded dresses, she once sued Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski for sexual assault. Like many Trump supporters, she posted semi-condoning messages following the Jan. 6 violence with Tweets like, “We were told that it’s completely understandable when ANTIFA was burning down cities. But not when Trump supporters are angry? I don’t support violence in any form, but I have empathy and understand why they feel this way!”
Then: Rally speaker, co-founder of Latinos for Trump
Today: QAnon friendly, D.C. eulogist
Marco Gutierrez was easily the calmest speaker at the Aug. 1 rally. A Mexican immigrant, he spoke of his love of America and the need to follow proper pathways to citizenship. But his social media accounts are known to be more provocative. This includes retweeting video from QAnon Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene and this tweet at the end of the U.S. Capitol riot:
Then: Bounty hunter running for Governor, rally speaker
Today: Bounty hunter running for Governor
Though far more fiery in tone than Gutierrez, Diego Martinez was among the less controversial Aug. 1 speakers. He focused largely on his policy differences with Gov. Gavin Newsom and desire to recall him. Martinez was last seen in Sacramento at the Jan. 6 “Wild Protest West” that ended with a dozen people arrested, but Martinez’s remarks to the crowd were again comparatively tame. For instance, his big applause lines were, “COVID is deadly. It does happen, but our economy, our livelihood, our freedom is a little more important than that,” and “Recall Newsom! We want our freedom back!” Hardly walk-away rousing rhetoric.
* SactoPolitico.com founder and editor Jeff Burdick ran in the March 3rd Congressional primary as a first-time candidate against incumbent Ami Bera. Patterson and two other candidates also ran in the primary. Burdick is a trained journalist, and six months after the primary election, he returned to this vocation by starting The Sacto Politico.