“How many people do we have on the livestream so far?” Laura Loomer asks, standing on the sidewalk by the Governor’s Mansion in Sacramento. It’s Wednesday January 30th.
Ben Bergquam grins in the foreground. “I have to do my botox smile.” He says.
They’re both dressed as racist caricatures of Mexican people, wearing ponchos and oversized sombreros. Bergquam has a fake mustache on. They do bits and say hello to their followers on the livestream in a voice like the Frito Bandito. Loomer has a tent set up with photos of people she describes as “victims of illegal immigrants.”
“No hate! No Fear! Rapists are welcome here! No hate! No fear! Drug dealers are welcome here!” Loomer and her supporters chant.
She and Bergquam, who hosts the 1680 AM Radio program “Frontline America,” will soon step on the mansion’s lawn and get arrested for trespassing.
A crowd of around twelve, some of whom are livestreaming the event, stand around the three-foot-high fence. Antonio Foreman, Baked Alaska’s bodyguard during Unite the Right, is there apparently acting as security for Loomer.
At about 1:22PM, an officer tells Berquam and Loomer they’re trespassing and gives them a chance to leave before they risk arrest.
“What’s trespassing? I thought this was open borders in California?” Loomer says to the officer.
“Why would [Governor] Gavin [Newsom] invite us to California and then say we can’t go into his house?” Bergquam asks as part of his bit. At this point in the video he’s given up on the accent.
Loomer’s latest stunt is similar to the one she pulled at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Napa Valley home about two weeks ago, where she hired three undocumented laborers to trespass on her property. Loomer wanted to confront Pelosi about having a wall around her home while opposing Trump’s border wall. According to the Daily Beast, these undocumented men may not have understood who she was or that they were committing a crime. Representatives for Pelosi declined to press charges on the men. Loomer’s group, which included Foreman, complained that the men weren’t deported.
“This feels like a bigoted action,” Bergquam says as he and Loomer are being handcuffed at around 1:30PM.
Loomer has a history of publicity stunts and tirades. She claimed survivors of the 2018 Parkland shooting were “being fed lines” while working for InfoWars. She was recently kicked off Twitter for using common Islamophobic tropes in a rant against newly elected Representative Ilhan Omar.
Bergquam is a self-identified Proud Boy who frequently attends far-right rallies to livestream them for his show. He was at the bloody April 15th, 2017 rally in Berkeley attended by white nationalist groups like Rise Above Movement and Identity Evropa as well as militias like the Oath Keepers and the III%ers. On Bergquam’s website he says he “believes that abortion is murder, homosexuality is sin, and transgenderism is insane.” He also claims “[w]e are in the midst of a cultural civil war” whose enemies include the Council on American-Islamic Relations and Black Lives Matter.
Officers allow live-streamers and supporters to get right next to Loomer and Bergquam as they’re put in the back of squad cars. The officer holding Loomer’s handcuffs waits so she can make a statement to the livestreamers. She repeats far-right talking points about politicians like Pelosi and Newsom letting rapists and cop-killers into the country and giving them benefits like free housing.
“You have a journalist being arrested in Gavin Newsom’s yard but then illegal aliens last week were not arrested. They’re here illegally!” Loomer says as she’s being lead into a squad car.
While waiting to pick up Loomer and Bergquam from jail, one of Bergquam’s assistants took to Frontline America’s livestream to complain to nearby police officers that a restaurant was refusing to serve them because of their pro-Trump gear.
“Guys, call this place. Go ahead and Yelp ‘em,” he said on livestream as someone from the restaurant attempted to explain the group was making other patrons uncomfortable.
“Call ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] they probably have illegals working for them and they’re afraid,” commenter Julian Kruger said on the livestream. Multiple posters implored those watching the stream to report the restaurant to ICE on the baseless assumption there were “illegals” in the restaurant. The phone number of the restaurant was posted multiple times in the comments.
Loomer and Bergquam were booked at 4:33PM and 4:14PM respectively according to the Sacramento Sheriff’s office and released some time between 8 and 9PM. They’re both due at Gordon D. Schaber Courthouse, Department 3 at 8:30 AM today.
Bergquam posted a video update at 11:33PM in character as “Poncho Benny,” fake moustache, sombrero and all. He broke character after repeating his bit about Gavin Newsom apparently personally not letting him on the Governor’s Mansion property despite what Bergquam describes as an open border policy. He breaks character to complain about the smell of “bums that literally crapped themselves” in his holding cell while he was in jail.
“It was worth every second of it to have Gavin Newsom have to watch us get kicked off his lawn. He said everyone is welcome and we tested him on that and it’s not true,” Bergquam said, returning to his bit character voice. “Today I identified as an illegal and you kicked me off your property and that’s not cool.”