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Extremist group with San Diego ties

 February 14, 2023 at 5:00 AM PST

Good Morning, I’m Matt Hoffman, in for Debbie Cruz….it’s Tuesday, February 14th.

A far right extremist group with local ties.

More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….


We have an update for you on a story we brought you last week.

The I-R-S says that the California Middle Class Tax Refund will not be subject to federal income tax.

The agency said it will not tax the refund because it is considered disaster relief related to the COVID pandemic.

They had previously told people to hold off on filing their taxes until they issued guidance on the refunds.

So, now, you can file away. The deadline is May 15th because of an extension from the storms that hit the state last month.


An SDSU building is temporarily closed while the university investigates a reported case of Legionnaires' disease in a campus community member.

The disease is also known as Legionella pneumonia, and can be carried in water systems.

Symptoms include cough, fever, shortness of breath, muscle aches and headaches.

The university says the person is away from campus and recovering.

It’s still unknown where the individual was exposed to the bacteria.

The Exercise and Nutritional Sciences building will be closed until testing is completed and it’s cleared for re-entry.


More strong winds, chilly temps and possible rain is expected across the county.

The National Weather Service also put out a wind advisory for San Diego coastal areas until 10 tonight.

Because of the weather, schools in the Mountain Empire Unified School District will be closed today.

And schools in the Julian Union Elementary School District will start late today.

It’s expected to be cold the rest of the week throughout the county, and another storm is in the forecast for the weekend.


From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need.


Anti-semitism and hate crimes are on the rise in the U-S.

And some far-right groups are becoming more extreme.

inewsource investigative reporter Jill Castellano tells us about how one of those extremist groups is impacting San Diego.

San Diego has been forced to face anti-Semitism head on. In 2019, a man shot four people at a synagogue in Poway, a San Diego suburb, which spread fear across the Jewish community. Since then, the number of anti-semitic incidents in the area has continued to climb. That includes acts of vandalism, harassment and assault. A far-right extremist group connected to San Diego is fueling incidents like these. It’s called the Goyim Defense League. PERLOV: Over the past years the Goyim Defense League has been active in San Diego. That’s Fabienne Perlov, the San Diego regional director of the Anti-Defamation League. She says the Goyim Defense League is a small network of white supremacists with dozens of supporters and thousands of online followers. PERLOV: “They spread anti-Semitic myths and conspiracy theories. They say Jews are responsible for 9/11 and the COVID pandemic. And they also hold racist and homophobic views.” The group has monthly propaganda campaigns where it distributes fliers and displays signs with hateful messages. There were more than one hundred of these events across the country last year. San Diego has been home base to one of the group’s most prominent figures… a Canadian immigrant named Robert Wilson. What are you gonna do? What are you gonna do? Wilson provokes members of the public with hateful language and posts footage of the incidents on social media. Last year, Wilson and another member of the Goyim Defense League paraded around San Diego in a van covered with anti-Semitic messages, using a megaphone to shout at people on the street. They did it again in Beverly Hills a few months later. The Anti-Defamation League says even though the hateful activities might be protected as free speech, it’s important to report them to the authorities, because they can escalate. PERLOV: “We know that words matter and that hateful rhetoric breeds more hateful rhetoric, especially online, and it can incite real-life violence.” In late 2021, Wilson allegedly attacked his next-door neighbor while yelling homophobic slurs. He was charged with a hate crime and is facing up to three years in prison. Shortly after the incident, Wilson spoke to CBS 8 reporter, David Gotfredson outside the courthouse. COURTHOUSE TAPE: “Are you in a feud with your neighbor? No. Did you yell homophobic slurs at your neighbor? There’s no such thing as homophobia.” But Wilson didn’t stick around to face the charges. Last summer, he fled the country to Poland, where he continues to spread hate. Wilson went to the Auschwitz memorial and held up anti-Semitic signs with Jon Minadeo, the Goyim Defense League’s founder who’s from the Bay Area. Minadeo was arrested. In November, Wilson recorded a video of himself confronting U.S. military officers in Poland and using a racial slur. WILSON: “Show us what a tough guy you are, you got an AR15?” The San Diego County district attorney’s office wouldn’t say if it will extradite Wilson. The Anti-Defamation League says he’s not a threat to San Diegans anymore. PERLOV: “Honestly, we don’t miss him in San Diego.” San Diego County is home to more than 100,000 Jewish people and 400 Holocaust survivors. The county’s Board of Supervisors recently declared January 24th Holocaust remembrance day and agreed to build a commemorative exhibit in the county. Board member Nathan Fletcher said the exhibit is deeply needed. FLETCHER: When we see hate speech and white supremacy, nationalism and anti-Semitism like we are seeing growing across our communities and society, we’re reminded of the work that remains to hold true to our promise. In the aftermath of the Holocaust, the promise of never again. For KPBS, I’m inewsource investigative reporter in San Diego.

inewsource is an independently funded, nonprofit partner of KPBS.


The border wall at Friendship Park is back under construction.

Reporter Jacob Aere says that is NOT welcome news to advocates who want to keep it as a space for families and friends in the U-S and Mexico to reconnect.

Friendship Park is the historic binational meeting place at the westernmost end of the US-Mexico border. It’s long been divided by a border fence… and now, U.S. Customs and Border Protection is building new, higher walls … after temporarily pausing construction last August. John Fanestil is an advocate with Friends of Friendship Park. “The construction of a 30 foot wall to replace that 18 foot fence will eliminate the views into the park and many people will arrive down there without ever realizing there’s a public meeting place at all.” CBP said its work will provide much-needed improvements… and that visitors will be able to access the park once construction is done – assuming it’s operationally safe to do so. Friendship Park has been closed to the public on the U.S. side of the border since 2019. Replacement of the fencing is expected to take six months. Jacob Aere, KPBS News.


Researchers from California are in Turkey to gather data on the massive earthquake that hit the region, over a week ago.

Education reporter M.G. Perez has more on the research.

A team from the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute based at UC Berkeley…is already on the ground surveying destruction from the 7-point-8 earthquake …half a world away. Much of the data collected will be shared with scientists and engineers at home here in California. Lelli van DE nine-da is a professor of engineering at UC San Diego. “everytime we correct the code and make things stronger or better or more resilient…it sometimes  introduces a weaker section somewhere else…and the earthquake is known to find the weakness in our buildings.” At some point, UCSD researchers will recreate last week’s earthquake…using the state-of-the-art “shake table” heavy hydraulics system in experiments on campus. MGP KPBS News.


Coming up.... We learn about a local company that makes specialty uniforms for motorcycle officers. We’ll have that story and more, next, just after the break.


Motorcycle racing is a dangerous sport, and a North County company says its gear is the best in the world at protecting riders.

Reporter Kitty Alvarado tells us what they’re doing to protect those who “protect and serve.”

That’s the sound of a cutting machine at Motoport USA in Escondido. It cuts Kevlar mesh… one piece at a time… and then each piece is carefully sewn into a pair of protective pants that are made to order… Natsound sewing machine And could protect a rider from serious injury. I have a lot of good friends that died racing motorcycles Wayne Boyer is the owner of Motoport USA… and a former competitive motorcycle rider.  But protecting competitive riders isn’t his only business. Boyer says in the 90s, he found another market – in local police departments. I was really shocked to see that there were just cotton polyester shirts and pants that had virtually no tear abrasion strength of these guys were crashing and getting serious injuries from not wearing protective clothing. Now 75 percent of his business is making protective gear for motorcycle officers across the country. The most recent customer for the family business is the San Diego Police Department. Motorcycle Officer Matthew Zaitz proposed the uniform upgrade, after doing a lot of research and talking to colleagues in other departments. I spoke to one of the officers who worked on Chula Vista Police Department and he went down at about 30-35 …slid across the road …  got up and the pants weren’t torn, ripped, scratched … they look like he hadn't even been on the ground so that’s what sold me…  Zaitz says it was long overdue. I have pictures of the motor unit from the 1920s and it was essentially the same uniform  so it’s very reassuring knowing that we’re in a safer uniform, a uniform designed to be worn while riding a motorcycle. And a uniform designed specifically for the officer who will wear it. Members of Boyer’s family all help with the process, taking orders, doing the books… and even measuring the customers as they come in. Hi I’m Wayne, Joe Hi Joe good to meet you  Robbie you want to start with him  Boyer’s son-in-law Robbie takes measurements. Out-of-town customers can get measured online. Exact fit is crucial for protection, and there’s no mass production here. Every uniform is made one at a time. Which means – it takes time. We have almost 3 1/2 months wait when a police officer places an order. So that’s one of our biggest problems, is supply and demand. But Boyer says he would rather take his time and make sure things are done right. There was a time when the manufacturing was done by other companies… but then, one of those suits failed. we found out that the company ran out of thread so they just grab the regular cotton poly thread. Boyer says using the wrong thread meant a customer got hurt. when it was in-house we can make sure everything is correct. So now all the work is done in Escondido, by employees like Reyna Valdovinos, who runs that cutting machine making the perfectly-sized pieces. When I’m driving I saw people and the Police Wearing The uniforms and I am I’m so happy and I’m glad to make it, that kind of stuff for the people. It costs 31-hundred-dollars to outfit an officer with several uniforms, but those uniforms will last for years… and could save lives. We get about four motors on a month that crash, and we usually get a testimonial form where they come in and shake my hand and thank me personally. I’ve even had wives  and kids with the offices thank me many times, and it really does make me feel great. Kitty Alvarado, KPBS News.


"Under a Baseball Sky" is a world premiere play commissioned by The Old Globe.

The play is about baseball, and is inspired by the Logan Heights community in San Diego,

It's from the team who brought us the 20-18 play "American Mariachi."

Playwright José Cruz Gonzalez and director James Vásquez spoke with KPBS arts producer Julia Dixon Evans.

Here's their conversation.

Starting with Jose: why did you choose sports, and specifically baseball for a play? 

And James, what is your connection to baseball?

The setting is based on the Mexican American community in San Diego's Logan Heights. James can you talk about Logan Heights, and what was it about that place that inspired this work?

Jose, this play follows two main characters, a younger troublemaker and his elderly neighbor. Tell us about these two, and why you chose this intergenerational friendship at the heart of the story? 

I have one more question, how do you stage a play about a game you really can't play indoors? 

The play is currently in low-cost previews at the Old Globe and officially opens Thursday.

It's on stage through March 12.


That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Matt Hoffman. Thanks for listening and happy Valentines Day!

A far-right extremist group connected to San Diego is fueling anti-semitic incidents. In other news, an Escondido company makes specialty police uniforms for departments across the country. Plus, the world premiere of a play inspired by the Logan Heights community premieres at The Old Globe Thursday.