California has been hit by destructive government policies in response to the overblown coronavirus epidemic resulting in a massive wipe out of small, independent businesses. This has morphed into opportunistic race riots in big California cities including vandalism and looting of small businesses and deaths of police officers targeted by people posing as protestors who then become rioters.
In the Palm Springs resort area of California, this havoc has shifted to fire-bombings of apparently targeted properties, all too coincidental: a small restaurant whose owner defied the non-essential business shutdown, a Republican Women Federated headquarters office, and the former home of Bob Hope, a comedian who favored Richard Nixon and the Vietnam War.
Red Barn Restaurant Fire
The fire at the Red Barn restaurant in Palm Desert came on the evening of a local Black Lives Matter protest in Palm Desert on June 1st. John Labrano, the owner, became controversial in the media when he announced he was going to re-open the restaurant before the non-essential business shut down was lifted on May 22. He opened up early on May 16. The state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control had threatened to pull Labrano’s liquor license if he opened early, so he did not serve alcohol.
Labrano got a lot of media attention because he had painted the roof of his landmark restaurant saying: “Save Jobs, Hang a Politician,” and “Suck my Governor; We R Essential.”
After the shut-down was lifted, Labrano changed the roof to read: “Make Palm Desert Great Again” and “America the Free and No Regerts” (referring to a famous body tattoo where the word regrets was misspelled “regerts”).
The restaurant suffered extensive fire damage inside although the exterior may be salvageable.
The Red Barn Restaurant fire is located a few blocks away from where a protest was held on the same day. La Quinta fire department captain Fernando Herrera confirmed the Republican Women’s Federation fire was a fire bombing, as a surveillance video showed a person breaking windows and entering the property.
A commenter on the CalFire Facebook webpage pointed out that a solar panel in the median of Highway 111 in front of the restaurant was inscribed with the words “BLM” and “Pig.”*
The Republican Women’s Headquarters “Suspicious” Small Fire
One day prior to the Red Barn fire, the office of the East Valley Republican Women Federated in La Quinta was set fire. Their office is located in a retail shopping center store front along Highway 111. Windows were broken to gain entry. The small fire must have been lit right before the firefighters arrived, as it did not spread to the rest of the structure. The Republican Women posted a $1,000 reward on Facebook for information on who set the fire as an act of “domestic terrorism.” The La Quinta Fire Department called the fire “suspicious.”
A photo of a hooded suspect and an automobile were posted on the CalFire Facebook website here. The suspect’s sweatshirt had the letters “USST” on it, perhaps referring to the “University of Shanghai Science and Technology”, the “United States Shooting Team” or the “United States Stock Transfer Corporation”. This was preceded by the letters “IT” meaning Information Technology.
Bob Hope’s Iconic Former Hillside House
On June 2, a day after the Red Barn Fire, a “suspicious” brush fire was reported around 4 pm near Bob Hope’s former iconic hillside home. The fire burned 200-acres but did no damage to structures. 15 fire engines with 45 firefighters responded.
Hope’s former house is an iconic landmark prominently perched on a hillside over Palm Springs. The Hope house is in a gated enclave of homes, so this might be one reason the fire was unable to spread to the homes from the hillside.
Three Fires Too Coincidental
Labrano now claims that the fires that hit his restaurant and the Republican Women’s office fires have been caused by the same arsonists. Labrano is reported to have called the purported fire bombers “vandals”, as if whoever did this merely graffitied his restaurant instead of destroying it.
*correction: It was incorrectly reported that the graffiti said “Antifa” and “Pig.” We corrected this to “BLM” and “Pig.”
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