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KPBS Midday Edition Segments

Video Resurfaces Featuring Images Of Hitler And Local GOP Party Chair Tony Krvaric

 August 24, 2020 at 11:15 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh with Mark Sauer, Tony [inaudible] the head of the San Diego County Republican party announced earlier this month that he would be stepping down from that position. At the end of the year, he's been the local GOP chairman since 2007, but a video made years earlier showcasing Tony [inaudible] has now surfaced, which is garnering condemnation from many San Diegans, including at least two prominent Republicans. The amateur video features a young Tony Guevara and two other young men making gestures and faces while a repeating image of adult Hitler bounces overhead. There was also a brief image of a swastika KPBS investigative reporter on ether Sharma worked with investigative producer, JW August on this story on a Martha joins me. Now I'm either welcome. It's good to speak to you, Maureen, a bit more detail about this video, when and why was it made? Speaker 1: 00:59 Well, the video was put together sometime in the early 1990s in Sweden, maybe even in 1990. Cause I know when Tony Kovalchuk refers to it, he says 30 years ago. And what the video shows is an almost continuous image of Hitler pumping his right arm, which has a swastika band around it. And he's floating up and down emit the heads of three young guys. These are images of three young guys, and one of those guys is Tony Cavarretta. The video lasts about two and a half minutes and it also has a scroll that is hard to read, but at least part of it says now don't think that we are mega Nazis just because of the Hitler Sprite as to why this video was made. What the purpose of this video was, who the intended audience of this video was. We don't know because Tony Coburg refused an interview. He refused to answer any questions about the video. What's the purpose of the Nazi imagery. That is a huge mystery Marine. You know, we've watched the video repeatedly to see it. Perhaps we could figure that out. I can tell you that Jim McElroy, he's a local civil rights lawyer. And he was also a board member at the Southern poverty law center and chairman of the board at one time. And here was his takeaway of that video. Speaker 2: 02:36 That's pretty serious stuff. We're talking about genocide. We're talking about the deaths of millions of people. That's not something to joke about. Speaker 1: 02:46 Has anything else surfaced with the same kind of imagery or Hitler references since Tony Guevara has been head of the local GOP. Now that we know of Maureen, you did get some reaction from a couple of local leaders about the video. What did they have to say? That's right, supervisor Diane, Jacob said she didn't know about the video, but she called it a disturbing video, congressional candidate Daryl. Eissa had this to say about the video. Speaker 3: 03:17 His video was inappropriate, uh, and just playing wrong then and now, and that, uh, from mr. Guevara, he truly has to explain why that doesn't represent who he is today. Speaker 1: 03:30 I want to add that, uh, JW August again, who worked with me on this story, contacted several Republican leaders in the County, including mayor Faulkner San Diego, mayor Faulkner, um, and other members of the board of supervisors. I contacted the current chairwoman of the state Republican party. All of these people either refuse to comment or they didn't respond, but after the story came out, mayor Faulkner came out with a statement that read quotes, the images and messages displayed in the video were wrong then and are wrong today and should never be tolerated. Now, in your report, you included some observations about the public political expressions of [inaudible] two sons and one of those sons as apparently associated with the grouper army. Tell us what that is. Well, groupers are a loose group of white nationalists and here's lawyer McElroy explaining what exactly the Graper's want Speaker 3: 04:34 They're advocate for white America. They advocate at the end of all, immigration whatsoever Speaker 1: 04:39 During this time of racial justice reckoning in the United States, Tony Clark's, other son Oliver has written about his concern that we maintain quote, reverence for our history and an effort to uphold our national and cultural identity. Why would that be suspect is more along the lines of what we are discussing. McElroy says there are these soft code words that white nationalists use in their attempt, in their efforts to push the Republican party to the right and to, to create a path for themselves to go mainstream. And so he says when words like reverence for our history or preserving national and cultural identity are used, the underlying message is the belief that societies thrive when there is racial, ethnic, and cultural purity. And the underlying goal is to create that in the United States for the white race. Now Amica after this story was posted Tony Guevara tweeted quote for the record, any Nazi imagery is disgusting. Speaker 1: 05:55 I didn't create the computer, didn't choose the graphics. And I obviously don't support anything like that, which would be obvious, had KPBS bothered to talk to anyone that knows me or looked up my statements over the years, unquote, I mean for how do you respond to that criticism? When the image of the leader of a major political party appears in a video alongside images of Hitler and Nazi symbols, which indisputed brain invoke a racist antisemitic, genocidal history filled with pain, filled with horror, built with destruction. We as journalists are obligated to go to that leader, no matter how long ago that video was created and ask him, how did this video come about? Why were you a part of this video? What was its purpose? Who was your intended audience? How do you view the video? Now we did that. We try to do that. He wouldn't give us an interview. He wouldn't answer our questions. Now I have to add this. Tony Kovacic as head of the Republican party is probably a brilliant strategist. Why he thought it was a good strategy not to speak to us is for him to answer. I can tell you that rabbi Cooper at the Simon Wiesenthal center disagreed with that decision. Here's what he said. Speaker 4: 07:47 I believe he owes everyone in San Diego and beyond an explanation. Okay. Speaker 1: 07:52 I've been speaking with KPBS, investigative reporter, Amica Sharma, and you can see the video on the full report on our website, kpbs.org, Amica. Thank you very much. Thank you Marine. Following my interview earlier today with Ron nearing the former chair of the San Diego County and state Republican parties. I asked him to respond to the KPBS story about Tony Guevara and here's what he, Speaker 4: 08:17 Tony Clark is a very well known public figure in San Diego. It's very easy to find people who know Tony very well. I've known Tony for 15 years and no one came to me to ask me, or no one asked anyone else about the man that Tony [inaudible] is to provide some context to this. And, uh, and I think that's very much missing from, uh, uh, from that story. Tony [inaudible] is a good guy. And I think that he has been woefully mischaracterized, uh, by KPBS his reporting on the matter so far. And that should be corrected Speaker 1: 08:52 Prior to the publication of this story. KPBS reporting partner, JW August reached out to Ron Neron multiple times for comment Speaker 5: 09:12 [inaudible].

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The video, produced three decades ago, shows a bobbing Hitler and Nazi symbols along with a photo of a young Krvaric, who is now the chairman of the San Diego County Republican Party.
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