I posted an article about the “Yes California” secession movement on April 15th. The “Yes California” co-founder and current president, Marcus Ruiz Evans, reached out to me for an exclusive interview after reading my article. So I interviewed Evans, who wanted to set the record straight.
This is the last of three articles from our interview that will be posted here on The Independent Sentinel news website. The other articles were posted on April 23rd and 24th.
Part 3 of 3: An Independent California’s Natural Resources, International Trade, and Military Forces
My conversation with Marcus Ruiz Evans turned to the diverse needs of Northern versus Southern California as it relates to water rights and natural resources. Evans said California produces more than enough water to supply everyone in Los Angeles and that 60% of its water goes to crops. Furthermore, Evens noted that, “90% of those crops are eaten by Americans and people around the world.”
That led to questions of trade regarding California’s natural resources, such as mining and forestry. Evans said there are already state to state trade agreements in place. He suggesting a moratorium, keeping current laws and trade agreements in place for two years.
Marcus Ruiz Evans identified himself as a “third-generation Latino-American.” When asked what would happen to the population of illegal immigrants in California who are currently undocumented. He said all people living in California would automatically be accepted as full citizens, regardless of their national origin.
When discussing California as a nation, Evans said, “If you’re in here, you’re in, if you don’t want to be here, you are welcome to leave, but you don’t get to come back in.” He said people would get California citizenship. In addition, their website states that anyone who was born in California would automatically become a citizen.
The largest population of Iranians outside of Iran live in Southern California. On April 5, 2020, Evans posted “A message to the people of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
When asked about that video post and the source of funding for his organization and operations, Evans responded that under American law you cannot have foreign nationals donate to your campaign.
Mr. Evans was emphatic in his assertion that Yes California does not take money from any foreign countries, which is tantamount to a political campaign accepting foreign contributions, which is illegal. He said donations accepted on their website, yescalifornia.org, are taken through PayPal. Evans said U.S. law requires that those contributions come from Americans and American companies, and he doesn’t know how they could get foreign funds “unless PayPal is in on it.”
Evans comes from a proud military family. He said his father was a captain in the Army and his grandfather was in the Air Guard in Japan during WWII. That begged the question of whether California would need its own Army.
He said California already has an Army and Navy independent of the federal government. There are the California Military Reserves, the California Naval Militia, and the California Army National Guard. He said, however, they are not well funded. Evans believes people could be “enticed and incentivized” to join these military organizations so that the government could not “federalize these groups in national emergencies,” as has been done in the past.
Our final topic of discussion was federal land in California, which comprises almost half of the state. Evans said the Calexit movement has had years to think through issues like the ones we had already discussed.
Evans feels the federal government “swindled” California, because the government “owns only about 10% of the land in most other states.” He doesn’t believe the government would have a strong legal standing once California becomes its own country.
He also discussed indigenous people in the state. Evans proposed giving what is now federal land back to indigenous groups, who he feels would be better at managing the land. They have already met with three official tribes in California that have indicated they are in favor of this proposal, saying, “If California leaves, give us back our land.”
In his closing statement, Evans commented on his video to the Iranian people, indicating he “did not say he wanted California to change their opinion and be more friendly to the people of Iran.” He simply invited the Iranian people to look at who they’ve been for decades, and when California becomes independent they will not be as supportive of our U.S. military abroad.
Evans reiterated that Wikipedia will not change the information to reflect that he, not Marinelli, is president of the organization, and has been since 2017. He feels his organization has repeatedly been misrepresented in the media. I told Evans that once information is out there, it’s difficult to pull things back, especially with the optics like their co-founder living in Russia.
Evans specifically mentioned an April 6, 2020, opinion article by the Editorial Board of the Sacrament Bee as an example of reporting that was inaccurate and highly critical of the Calexit movement. He pointed out that his name was written incorrectly in the opinion article, even though the newspaper has been following the movement for years.
An opinion article argued in part, “Their (Calexit) simple aim is to confuse Trump opponents naive enough to buy into their ludicrous ‘movement’ and sow further division in American society. That’s why Marcus Evans Ruiz, an obscure internet persona who has declared himself ‘president’ of California, released a YouTube message to addressed (SIC) to the Iranian people.”
The Sacramento Bee Editorial Board added, “Calexit is nothing more than an ongoing practical joke promoted by powerless California “goosfands” (Farsi for “sheep or silly people”). Obviously, the pathetic nature of Calexit has been lost in translation.”
A search of the Sacramento Bee found additional articles on April 26, 2018, Feb. 14, 2018, and Aug. 17, 2017, some that were scathing and contemptuous of Calexit. Evans also disputes the Bee’s claims that the majority of Californians are not in favor of independence. He pointed out what he sees as misinformation printed in these articles.
On the other hand, a Los Angeles Times article by columnist Steve Lopez on April 22, 2020, suggested it’s time to split up the country, namely California. He wrote, “Roughly 30 years ago, the USSR came to grips with its irreconcilable regional differences and broke apart, splitting into 15 independent republics. Why can’t we do that here?”
The future of the Calexit movement is uncertain. Individuals and groups on both sides of the California secession movement have polarizing views with loud voices and lots of ink. Only time and the voters will determine the destiny of California.
California has centuries of folklore and plucky history. If Calexit gains momentum, will the fight for an independent California be peaceful or lead to a violent clash between old traditions and an uncharted future?
Ultimately, that question may have to be answered in the courts.