Noah Mohan and his girlfriend were walking his dog on Nov. 23 in downtown Fairfax when he noticed a young man with reflective sunglasses and a black face mask putting up stickers on light posts.
When he got closer, thinking the stickers might be advertising a local protest, he saw that they in fact featured a large swastika with the words “We are everywhere.”
Mohan, who is 21 and identifies as half-Jewish, instantly turned on his cellphone camera and confronted the man. In a nearly 10-minute encounter that has since gone viral, Mohan rips off the Nazi stickers and asks the man to get out of Fairfax, a liberal Marin County town of about 7,500.
“Don’t be putting that up in my f— town, bro,” Mohan says. The man says he will leave if Mohan stops recording; Mohan refuses, telling him to first throw out his roll of swastika stickers.
About halfway through the encounter, a passerby joins Mohan and questions the man about the Holocaust and concentration camps. The man says he doesn’t believe in the existence of either.
“I’m half-Jewish,” Mohan says at one point. “That explains it,” the man replies.
Mohan accuses him of being a Trump supporter, which the man denies, and compares him to Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old from Illinois charged with killing two protesters and injuring one with an AR-15 rifle in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The Fairfax police eventually showed up on the scene and Mohan stopped recording. While the man, later identified as a 19-year-old from Livermore, was not arrested, vandalism and possible hate crime charges were referred to the Marin County District Attorney’s office, according to ABC7.
A spokesperson for the DA’s office told J. that the case is under review.
“No comments will be made until a decision is made which will not occur until the case is reviewed and we are clear that we have all of the relevant information on the matter,” the spokesperson said.
Mohan said that he’s less focused on the swastika stickers and more on the message they convey.
“Racism is racism,” Mohan said later in an interview with J. “It doesn’t matter who it is towards. We need to call it out. I’m not gonna let anything like that slide.”
Since the confrontation, Mohan said he’s received death threats and ominous messages from self-described Nazi accounts on social media. One said “watch your back,” while another said the sender was waiting outside Mohan’s home.
Mohan has a background in amateur boxing and admitted he was tempted to punch the man putting up the swastika stickers. He held back because of a recent brawl at a rally in Novato, where Mohan tangled with some Trump supporters (he said he did not start the fight). He was charged with battery, but the charges were dropped for lack of evidence.
The Fairfax native describes himself as an “Irish Jew,” Jewish on his mother’s side and Irish on his father’s. He also said he comes from a “family of immigrants,” with a paternal grandfather who faced major hurdles when emigrating from Ireland.
“He had to figure it out,” Mohan said. “For seven kids.”
Mohan, who occasionally celebrates Hanukkah and Passover with family friends, said he is an advocate for racial justice, a critic of how the police do their work and a strong supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement.
From an early age, he said, he was taught important moral lessons by his “hippie” parents. He remembers riding on his father’s shoulders during protests in Berkeley and Oakland.
“I think I’ve been taught the right things, morally right things,” he said.
Mohan, who graduated high school in 2018, is a SoundCloud rapper and said he wants to build a career in the cannabis industry.
The recent viral incident, he said, has given his music career a boost and even made him think differently about his creative process.
“This impact I’ve made on people, maybe I can use it in a good way and make music that influences people to stand up against [racism],” he said. “Instead of rapping about getting high, like everyone’s doing, I think it’s time to start talking about this.”