San Francisco Braces for Violent Counter-Protests as Peaceful 'Patriot Prayer' Group Holds Rally (Updated)
On Saturday, a conservative group called Patriot Prayer will be holding a rally inside San Francisco’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area -- and violent street agitators are promising to disrupt.
Patriot Prayer is a self-described "peaceful First Amendment advocacy group" that holds rallies in locations where there have been conflicts over free speech.
Patriot Prayer organizer Joey Gibson explained what his group believes in this Facebook video:
The group held a protest at Evergreen State College outside Seattle on August 13 and hundreds of far-left agitators -- including Antifa, Indivisible Seattle, Black Lives Matter, and the Freedom Socialist Party -- violently tried to shut them down.
Calling themselves "Solidarity Against Hate," counter-protesters waved communist flags, yelled "f*ck America," squirted police with silly string, burned the American flag, and pepper-sprayed Gibson .
The event in San Francisco comes after House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi smeared Patriot Prayer as a "white supremacist group." On August 15, Pelosi issued a slanderous and utterly reprehensible statement excoriating the National Park Service for allowing the "white supremacist" Patriot Prayer group to hold their event at Golden Gate.
Via Fox News:
“The National Park Service’s decision to permit a white supremacist rally …raises grave and ongoing concerns about public safety,” Pelosi wrote. “Free speech does not grant the right to yell fire in a crowded theater, incite violence or endanger the public in any venue.”
Pelosi then went on to “wonder” whether the decision to permit the “white supremacist rally” was made “under guidance from the White House?”
And she questioned whether the National Park Service is “at all equipped to ensure public safety during a white supremacist rally?”
Pelosi should be ashamed of herself for making such a shockingly irresponsible statement. By branding a peaceful, inclusive group as "white supremacists," she has given counter-protesters license to oppose them "by any means necessary" on morally justified grounds.
And oppose them they will. The violent bay area Antifa group "By Any Means Necessary" (BAMN) vowed to disrupt the rally in the wake of Pelosi's remarks.
BAMN has routinely violently attacked anyone it considers a fascist at past rallies. Indeed, California law enforcement has blamed BAMN for inciting violence at extremist protests.
At the same time, Gibson worries that white supremacists or neo-Nazi hate groups could show up as well. But he said he plans to keep groups such as “Identity Evropa” out, because he has a NPS permit to rally, and they don’t.
“San Francisco is not gonna be a huge problem (with hate groups) because we have a permit so we can control who can come in,” Gibson told Fox News, “If anybody shows up with a flag or uses hateful rhetoric they can go stand out with Antifa.”
That has city and park officials scrambling to come up with a plan to avoid yet another devastating riot in the San Francisco Bay Area.
A source tells Fox News that the Patriot Prayer permit was issued before the violent riots in Charlottesville, Va. that left a woman dead, and San Francisco officials have asked the NPS to rescind the permit.
They have so far refused to do so, and the source tells Fox News that even though the San Francisco Police Department is ramping up staffing this weekend, and canceling days off for all available police officers, the SFPD is still looking to the NPS and the United States Park Police to handle whatever happens.
Joey Gibson told Fox News that this Sunday's rally is rooted in “a philosophy about promoting love and peace but doing it in a way that’s respectful. It’s about building bridges.”
Indeed, Gibson argues that he’s trying to inform supporters of Antifa – a broad group of left and far left leaning people - about the violent ways of the group to “bring them out of the darkness” and he says he has made converts like Tara “Bern.”
Tara, a Bernie Sanders backer who now lives in Washington state and served in the army, uses “Bern” as her last name on Facebook to “protect my family when I get into politics.”
Tara wrote on Gibson’s Facebook page that she marched in Seattle with Black Lives Matter, Antifa and other leftist groups because she “heard there was a Nazi rally.”
“As we marched past the police towards the rally, my group was yelling and cussing at the officers and at that exact moment,” Tara wrote, “I felt in my heart it was wrong.”
When she finally reached the supposed ‘Nazis,’ she found out they were actually just a free speech group.
“Speakers were preaching about love and peace, and my group wanted to rip them to shreds. I felt in my spirit that what the Antifa were doing by calling everyone to violence, was wrong,” said Tara.
Some on the right have been ringing alarm bells about an alleged "Alt-Left resistance leader" who threatened to attack rally-goers in San Francisco with a bat embedded with nails. The activist, who tweets under the Twitter handle "Prince Jordan," claims to be an Iraq war veteran, a "cute communist," and a Catholic.
The account tweeted out a picture of the bloody, spiked bat at least a couple of times in the past week, then deleted the tweets:
I strongly suspect @ibPrinceJordan is an alt-right prank account, however, judging from this tweet on Thursday:
Odds that this account is on the level: about 20/80.
Update: 5:34 P.M. PST
"We've decided that tomorrow really seems like a set-up, it doesn't seem safe," Gibson said, blaming what he called "rhetoric" from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and others who have called the event a white supremacist rally.
"We're not going to go down there. We're not going to have a rally at Crissy Field," Gibson said.