Even the local yoga community, where Ms. Hostetter’s husband was a fixture, has found itself divided.
“It goes deeper than just her. A lot of conversations between parents, between friends, have already been fractured by Trump, by the election, by Black Lives Matter,” said Cady Anderson, whose two children attend Ms. Hostetter’s school.
Ms. Hostetter, she added, “just brought it all home to us.”
Complicating matters is Ms. Hostetter’s relative silence. Apart from appearing at protests and the incident at the beach, she has said little publicly over the past year, and did not respond to repeated interview requests for this article. People have filled in the blanks.
To Ms. Hostetter’s backers, the entire affair is being overblown by an intolerant mob of woke liberals who have no respect for the privacy of someone’s personal politics. Yet Ms. Hostetter’s politics, while personal, are hardly private, and to those who have lined up against her, she is inextricably linked to her husband, Alan, who last year emerged as a rising star in Southern California’s resurgent far right.
An Army veteran and former police chief of La Habra, Calif., Mr. Hostetter was known around San Clemente as a yoga guru — his specialty is “sound healing” with gongs, Tibetan bowls and Aboriginal didgeridoos — until the pandemic turned him into a self-declared “patriotic warrior.” He gave up yoga and founded the American Phoenix Project, which says it arose as a result of “the fear-based tyranny of 2020 caused by manipulative officials at the highest levels of our government.”
Throughout the spring, summer and fall, the American Phoenix Project organized protests against Covid-related restrictions up and down Orange County, and Mr. Hostetter’s list of enemies grew: Black Lives Matter protesters. The election thieves. Cabals and conspiracies drawn from QAnon, the movement that claims Mr. Trump was secretly battling devil-worshiping Democrats and international financiers who abuse children.
By Jan. 5, Mr. Hostetter, 56, had graduated to the national stage, appearing with the former Trump adviser Roger Stone at a rally outside the Supreme Court.