These tweets sparked social media outcry against owner of Riley’s Farm in Oak Glen
As the busy apple season kicks into high gear at farms around nostalgic Oak Glen, a modern-day conflict has erupted on social media.
Facebook and Twitter users are accusing Jim Riley, a majority owner of Riley’s Farm, of posting misogynistic and racist messages on Twitter.
In a phone call Tuesday, Sept. 4, Riley would neither confirm nor deny he owned the @riley909 account under the name James Patrick Riley.
That account has been removed since screenshots purporting to be tweets from it started gaining steam on Facebook over the weekend.
“What is this country coming to if a girl can’t even use her bosoms to smack customers and then sue the president for unwanted sexual advances? #StormyDaniels” read a screenshot dated July 12, 2018.
Riley refused to answer if the account was his, and repeatedly referred to a statement posted Tuesday on the farm’s website before hanging up.
“In our case, the detractors have taken it upon themselves to post shameful and downright false comments about my character based on their reading of tweets taken out of context,” the statement reads in part.
Critics who shared the screenshots on social media beginning last week encouraged others to stay away from the farm, known for its u-pick apples and living history programs.
The Riley’s Farm flap started shortly after calls for a boycott of In-N-Out Burger began circulating on Twitter following news that the company had donated $25,000 to the California Republican Party.
In a public Facebook post Thursday, Aug. 30, Elizabeth Adams posted screenshots of @riley909’s tweets, calling them “racist, homophobic, misogynistic, obnoxious,” adding “maybe there are better places to spend your money this fall.”
By midday Wednesday, Sept. 5, Adams’ post had been shared more than 1,300 times.
Deana Olson, who shared some of the same screenshots on Twitter, said her family had been planning to go to Riley’s Farm, but after reading the tweets she decided it is not someplace she wants to take her children.
“You can say whatever you want to say any time you want to say it,” she said when reached by phone Tuesday, “but there are going to be consequences to the things that you say.”
She said she was particularly bothered by a tweet about white supremacy: “White supremacy?” the tweet read. “You mean those 3 guys who live in two different counties in Arkansas? If there’s a problem in America today it’s BLACK supremacy. Farrakhan, Obama, Lebron James, etc. Typical brain dead feminist.”
“It’s pretty disgusting,” Olson said.
She said two of her five children have been to the farm as part of school field trips, and she plans to talk to the district, Menifee Union School District in Riverside County, about curtailing their trips there.
“… my political and spiritual convictions are precisely that: mine,” Riley said in the statement on his website. “They don’t affect adversely the way the apples grow on the trees or the content of our living history programs. I routinely purchase products from people who have dramatically different perspectives on the world, and I serve people, with love and respect, even when I don’t agree with them.”
There are two similarly named farms in Oak Glen.
No one answered the phone at Riley’s Apple Farm on Tuesday and an employee at Riley’s at Los Rios Rancho said that farm is not owned by Jim Riley.
In two separate Facebook posts Wednesday, Riley’s Apple Farm and Riley’s at Los Rios Rancho confirmed they are not affiliated with Riley’s Farm.
“We have not had an association with that enterprise for 18 years,” the post from Riley’s Apple Farm reads in part. “We advertise via a website under the name Riley’s Apple Farm but do not use the internet to publish political views of any kind.”
Riley’s at Los Rios Rancho, meanwhile, tried to clear up confusion about which members of the Riley family own what. In its post, Riley’s at Los Rios Rancho said its owners prefer to keep business and politics separate.
“We find that it creates unnecessary division and contention where we would far rather share community and a Christ-like love to all,” the post reads in part.
As for attendance at Riley’s Farm possibly being hurt by a boycott, a post on the company’s Facebook page on Monday, Sept. 3, reported that Labor Day weekend sales hit an all-time record, and are 35 percent above last year’s numbers.