2. Black Lives Matter Events
After the killing of George Floyd by police, there were two large events by the Believe sign in downtown Reno, one a rally and the other a peace vigil. Armed men were present at each of them. What was their role? What groups were they from? What was their relation to the police? We will make some contribution to answering these questions.
May 30, 2020, George Floyd rally:
Militia from northern Nevada, militia from southern Nevada, Facebook militia supporters and Proud Boys all were involved in organizing a response to the May 30, 2020, Reno Black Lives Matter rally commemorating George Floyd.
In the screenshot below, Proud Boy Tony Alt of Las Vegas supports a call by Jared Raman of Sparks, Nevada, to attend the rally due to Raman’s hearing that “antifa is planning to be there and to be violent.” “I’m rallying as many patriots as I can to be armed and ready to protect our community,” he says, “and could sure use your help to build the squad.” Erin A. Gooch (Las Vegas) then relays the message on her Facebook page especially to Gary Riddle, Rocky Pastorino (III%) and Steve Battle-Born Price in Reno. “There may be innocent people caught up down there and stores may get vandalized. We need people to go out and protect those stores and the innocent.”
There were various men with arms at the rally. If you can identify any of them, please message us and we will include verified information in our report.
Later, militia member, Rocky Pastorino, stated on Facebook that they had been present at the rally “in full kit and with AR’s” and were treated well by the police who were glad to have their support.
Pastorino’s claim that police were fine with armed militia attending the event to support police activities merits further investigation. If you have credible information about the claim, please let us know.
A theme that emerges is the announcement of a supposed threat from antifa and the need for armed protection against that threat. In other words, the tactic is to stir up an imaginary threat and then call for armed protection from it. There in fact was no major “antifa” presence at either of the two large BLM events in Reno (one or two flags at most) and few or none at the smaller BLM events that have taken place since then. Nothing to this day suggests the perpetrators of the property damage incidents after the march on May 30 were “antifa,” whatever may be meant by that term.
Another theme is the organized interaction of different groups to resist the supposed antifa threat—militia, FB supporters/event promoters, Proud Boys and accelerationists.
In the interim between the two rallies, Light Foot Militia were on the alert. Here is a screen shot of a communication from Jason Peters, Commanding Officer of the Nevada Light Foot, about their supposed activities at that time.
Panic in the rurals:
Also in the interim, a stir was created in Elko regarding a supposed BLM van sighted in Winnemucca. Fear that BLM members were coming to Elko to destroy shops and stores was stirred up to the point that Elko County Sheriff, Aitor Narvaiza, received hundreds of Facebook messages about a possible riot with looting and had to quash the rumor. Many in the messages stated a readiness to provide armed support to the Sheriff should he need it.
Rumors of similar kind around the country got a great deal of coverage in the national press around this time—but, as far as we know, there was no coverage at all of the panic created in Elko, Nevada. The incident is another example of an apparently imagined threat—in this case, of a BLM riot in Elko—resulting in a strong response of readiness to take up arms. Who started the rumor? How did word get around? We would like to know.
June 7, 2020, George Floyd peace vigil:
Armed militia were present at the peace vigil. We have many photos of them. We can identify a number of the militia and recognize others as having been at other events or in other photos. Rocky Pastorino of Reno (currently Facebooking as Rocco Pastorino) was present and videotaped their presence there (some photos we possess are from his videotape). A leading figure is there who has attended many events. Corey Lequieu of Carson City is there (This is Reno photos). In the photo below (This is Reno), Jared Raman is seventh from left and Corey Lequieu is ninth from left in a group of armed militia in front of the Pioneer Center in downtown Reno.
A number of those in the photo above are also in this photo (Chris Torres photo) of armed men in front of the Sierra Arts Foundation office on Virginia Street in Reno.
In addition, a large contingent of bikers from different groups was present. The presence of militia and bikers was organized via a Facebook event page entitled “Reno/Sparks Terrorism Defense Network” under the doubtful rubric of being present at the vigil protecting demonstrators, protecting the city (“Protecting Reno/Sparks),” protecting local businesses and keeping the peace, “Read and bring friends.. and pass the word – come and help us keep a peaceful protest peaceful.”
This post is from Reno attorney, Joey Gilbert, who helped organize the counter-protest.
There was no violence at the peace rally and, after it ended, the militia left. The question why police allowed armed militia to be present at a peaceful demonstration merits further investigation.
Minden Counter-Demonstration, August 30, 2020:
We will not extensively discuss the Minden, Nevada, counter-demonstration to a small Black Lives Matter demonstration there since the event has been widely covered by local independent media. The demonstration was in response to Douglas County Sheriff Dan Coverly’s statement of refusal to protect the county library after the library director suggested consideration of a statement of support for Black Lives Matter. A small group of mostly young and mostly local Black Lives Matter supporters demonstrated and were met by hundreds of counter-demonstrators, many of them armed with long guns and some of them physically violent—punching others and slowly driving a vehicle into them, for two examples.
Photos of the event show some of the same people pictured above were present at the event including Jared Raman (fourth from left of the camouflaged) and some other regular participants.
Importantly, there are many militia, or men who appear to be militia, who still need to be identified. It is not clear what militia group(s) they are from though it could be that they are from the Northern Nevada Militia. Here is one of the photos (Kelsey Penrose, photographer).
If you know the identities of these militia, please let us know. Hopefully, we and other researchers will make progress on identifying them soon.
Militia presence at continuing BLM demonstrations:
BLM in Carson City has continued to demonstrate with some regularity and militia have been present at all or most of the events. At one event, BLM demonstrators were arrested for events subsequent to stepping off the curb into the bike lane but armed militia across the street were allowed to have a presence despite militia activity being outlawed by Nevada statute.
Why does the state of Nevada allow armed militia members to be present at demonstrations? It is against statute and must stop.