A free speech protest planned for today by the group Patriot Prayer was cancelled by the organizer, Joey Gibson.
An anti-Communist protest planned for tomorrow in Berkeley has also been scrubbed.
The reason for the cancellation of both rallies is the threat of radical leftist violence. And in both cases, the police could not be trusted to ensure the safety of rally participants.
Described as a “far right protest” in the Los Angeles Times, the free speech demonstration came under withering attack from politicians like Nancy Pelosi, who referred to the peaceful Patriot Prayer group as “white supremacists.” Antifa also made it clear that they were ready to engage in violence.
Joey Gibson, founder of the Patriot Prayer group, said in a Facebook Live post that his group had been working with police and “decided that Saturday’s rally seems like a setup.” The group had planned to hold a “Freedom Rally” at Crissy Field Beach in San Francisco.
“It doesn’t seem safe, a lot of people’s lives are going to be in danger tomorrow,” he said during an interview with Unite America First.
Meanwhile, the Facebook invite for Sunday’s “No to Marxism in America” in Berkeley remained active early Friday evening, but sponsor Amber Cummings said in a lengthy email to a San Francisco Chronicle reporter that she was “asking that no one come to my event.”
Cummings cited a fear of violence that was giving her “grave concerns for the safety of the people attending my event.”
Gibson’s suspicions of a set-up weren’t assuaged by the attitude of San Francisco’s radical left mayor:
“We don’t’ trust this group. I never have from the beginning,” San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said of Patriot Prayer.
Lee said the group had not canceled the event in writing, so police will still be there and anywhere else they need to be to keep the city safe.
Gibson said the rhetoric of Lee and other San Francisco leaders is what prompted fears for his group’s safety and the cancellation of the rally, and has said the group disavows racism and hatred.
Patriot Prayer is not a hate group. They are not listed on the notoriously anti-Christian, anti-conservative list of hate groups by the SPLC. Joey Gibson appears to be exactly what he says he is: a Christian who wants to end the divisions and hate in the country.
But both Gibson and Cummings are inexperienced activists. At a couple of Patriot Prayer rallies, white supremacists and Nazis showed up uninvited, leading to his group being tarred as a “far right” organization. A more mature organization and more experienced leader would have found a way to keep the undesirables out.
But Gibson appears to have underestimated the gimlet-eyed radicals of Antifa, who are trained in the dark arts of intimidation and thuggery.
Cummings is, if anything, more naive than Gibson:
Cummings said her rally was “to speak out against the political violence happening to people who do not agree” with left-wing ideology, and that the meaning was being lost as rhetoric around the rally escalated. However, she said she “alone” would still show up Sunday.
A demonstration against communism? In Berkeley? I admire her bravery, but she and the demonstrators were in danger of being killed. Cancelling was the right call.
But we are rapidly approaching a day when cancelling a demonstration for free speech or against communism because of violent threats will be the wrong call. Eventually, we are going to have to take a stand against those who brand all opposition as “racist” or “Nazi” and who use radical anarchists to intimidate peaceful demonstrators. Free speech, freedom of association, and yes, freedom of thought are under unprecedented attack in America.
Who is going to save it if not us? It’s ironic that in the birthplace of the free speech movement, where kids had their heads bashed in by cops for demonstrating in favor of freedom of expression, demonstrators would fear to have their own heads bashed in — not by cops, but by the ideological descendants of those who fought for the very thing that demonstrators today are demanding.