Thousands of San Franciscans Celebrate After Far-Right Group Cancels Rally
Bay Area residents gathered in support of "equal rights for all," marched against white supremacy, and even dressed as clowns to "spread joy, love, and celebrate living in diversity."
Thousands of people celebrated in the streets of San Francisco on Saturday after a slate of creative counterprotests and condemnation from local politicians convinced the rightwing group Patriot Prayer to cancel a rally it had planned for Saturday afternoon at Crissy Field.
The rally cancellation did not deter those who had planned citywide counterprotests from hosting their events, which included a gathering in support of "equal rights for all," a march against white supremacy, and a rally at the Civic Center—which featured a group that dressed as clowns in an effort to "spread joy, love, and celebrate living in diversity."
After Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson called off the rally with less than 24 hours notice, the group had planned a press conference for Saturday morning at Alamo Square, which was also cancelled when city police closed down the park because the organizers lacked a permit.
"I don't like Nazis in San Francisco or anywhere. We will chase them away. I can only hope that our presence here today will keep encouraging people to come out and stand up."
—Kelly Horner, 60-year-old counterprotester
Saturday afternoon, Gibson livestreamed a statement from a hotel room before hosting an outdoor press conference, attended by local media, in the nearby city Pacifia. In the livestreamed address, Gibson vowed to "walk the streets" of San Francisco today.
The Los Angeles Times reports: "on Saturday afternoon, Gibson and about two dozen of his supporters appeared at Crissy Field and argued with some of [the counterprotesters], but for the most part, avoided any physical conflict."
Although Patriot Prayer claims to oppose "extremists," including "Nazis, Communist, KKK, Antifa, white supremacist, I.E., or white nationalists," their events in the Pacific Northwest have often attracted individuals associated with those groups and ideologies, and ended in violent street battles.
"I don't like Nazis in San Francisco or anywhere. We will chase them away," 60-year-old Kelly Horner, who attended a counterprotest at the Civic Center on Saturday, told SFGate. "I can only hope that our presence here today will keep encouraging people to come out and stand up."
Just in: the alt-righties bailed to Pacifica. San Francisco *literally* chased the Nazis out of the city. pic.twitter.com/96p8IrYmrz— Violet Blue ® (@violetblue) August 26, 2017
Hundreds headed to Harvey Milk Plaza at 12pm local time for a "Come Together" counterprotest organized by LGBTQ activists Cleve Jones and Juanita More. "In light of the tragic events in Charlottesville and the ongoing fascist rhetoric of President Trump, the citizens of San Francisco are summoned to show their commitment to equal rights for all," the Facebook event said.
From the streets of San Francisco, Mother Jones journalists reported that thousands of counterprotesters started "marching from Alamo Square towards the Mission District" as "the Patriot Prayer group started livestreaming" their first address. The marchers "carried artistic posters, designed by Bay Area artists, including one that said 'Resist' and another that showed a tiki torch with orange wild flowers blooming instead of flames," SFGate reported.
The march against white supremacy is in The Mission. pic.twitter.com/mzZlMr7nAK— Shane Bauer (@shane_bauer) August 26, 2017
This story has been updated to include a report from the Los Angeles Times.