Live Updates: Protests in Berkeley turn violent as counter-protesters, pro-Trump forces clash
A pair of weekend rallies expected to generate major counter-protests in the San Francisco Bay Area have been canceled, but the possibility of tense street confrontations remains. The Times will be tracking developments on the ground all weekend in this space. Here’s what we know so far:
- Organizers have called off rallies planned at San Francisco’s Crissy Field and in Berkeley
- Photos from the scene showed large crowds with signs and banners
- The expected crowds will test whether police can prevent the violent clashes recently seen in other cities.
- Some politicians, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, wanted to block a permit for the Crissy Field protest in San Francisco.
- Dog owners opposed to the event took a stand, of sorts.
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Police identify 13 people arrested in Berkeley demonstrations
Berkeley police identified 13 people arrested during a protest Sunday that drew thousands of people to the city’s Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park and sparked violence between far-left and far-right demonstrators.
One officer was injured during an arrest and several others were struck with paint, according to the Berkeley Police Department. Paramedics treated six people; two were taken to a hospital for treatment.
Those arrested include:
- Seth Vasquez, 25, of Berkeley, was arrested on suspicion of violating park rules and security rules for city buildings.
- Mark Misohink, 23, of Berkeley, was arrested on suspicion of violating park rules and security rules for city buildings.
- James Dominic, 23, of Oakland, was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit a crime.
- Kristopher Wyrick, 39, of Alpine, Calif., was arrested on suspicion of fighting in public.
- Harlan Pankau, 38, of Jamul, Calif., was arrested on suspicion of public intoxication.
- Levi Smith, 32, of Sparks, Nev., was arrested on suspicion of violating park rules and security rules for city buildings.
- Sean Hines, 20, of Santa Rosa, Calif., was arrested on suspicion of resisting police and violating security rules for city buildings.
- Brittany Moorman, 26, of Oakland, was arrested on suspicion of violating park rules and security rules for city buildings.
- Yesenia Mendez, 22, was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, resisting police and wearing a mask to evade recognition in the commission of any public offense.
- Emily Gillespie, 24, of Berkeley, was arrested on suspicion of battery.
- Sean Dougan, 47, of Portland, Ore., was arrested on suspicion of battery, vandalism and inciting a riot;
- Rachel Moore, 40, of Oakland, was arrested on suspicion of battery with serious bodily injury.
- Joshua Phillips, 36, of Oakland, was arrested on suspicion of resisting police and participating in a riot.
Video shows mob beating man at Berkeley protest
The protests in Berkeley appeared to be getting more violent.
The video above shows someone being beaten by a mob.
Counter protesters far outnumbered pro-Trump backers.
There were shoving matches around well-known Orange County far-right figure Johnny Benitez. Some screamed “Go home Nazi,” as police tried to escort Benitez and Irma Hinojosa, a member of the Southern California group Latinos for Trump, through the crowd and out of the park.
Some arrests have been made.
Several arrested as tension grows between protest groups in Berkeley
The Berkeley Police Department has arrested 10 people for various violations, including fighting, as tension grows between demonstrators protesting hate groups and supporters of President Trump on Sunday afternoon.
The mostly peaceful demonstration started heating up about noon at Martin Luther King Park, where the two rival groups faced off and several fights broke out.
There were shoving matches surrounding well-known Orange County far-right figure Johnny Benitez. Some screamed, “Go home Nazi!” as police tried to escort Benitez and Irma Hinojosa, a member of the Southern California group Latinos for Trump, through the crowd and out of the park.
Police in riot gear fired a rubber bullet at one demonstrator who attempted to cross a barricade into the park, which was closed to the public, but later opened. Some protesters set off purple smoke bombs.
The moderate counter-protesters are livid with the violence. “We need to get antifa out of here.” said a man who helped break up fight.
The size of counter-protest group grew even more when members of the Black Bloc arrived at the park.
Antifa demonstrators, short for antifascists, at some point rushed a member of Patriotic Prayer, a conservative group that says it advocates free speech and 1st Amendment rights, arrived at the park.
Shane Bauer, a reporter with Mother Jones, tweeted that he had been “pepper sprayed in the eye.”
A Los Angeles Times reporter also tweeted that protesters threatened to break reporters’ cameras if they film them.
Joey Gibson, organizer of Saturday’s canceled rally, arrested after running at police
Joey Gibson, the founder of the Patriot Prayer group that organized Saturday’s canceled rally in San Francisco, was arrested after running at police today.
Shortly after arriving at the Berkeley rally, the prominent right-wing organizer was met with resistance from members of Antifa, an anti-fascist movement.
Members of Antifa were seen involved in a number of violent scuffles.
Gibson, who showed up with members of his Oregon-based right-wing Patriot Prayer group, was arrested outside MLK Park.
Gibson announced on Friday that his group had canceled its “Freedom Rally” planned for Saturday 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.
Elsewhere at the rally, hundreds of masked members of Antifa carrying shields climbed a police barricade and entered a Berkeley park.
2:36 p.m.: This post has been updated with Gibson’s arrest and Antifa’s involvement.
This post originally published at 2:09 p.m.
Here’s what the Berkeley Police Department told demonstrators not to bring
The Berkeley Police Department sent out a reminder Sunday morning about everything that protesters are barred from bringing to Martin Luther King Civic Center Park.
And it’s a long list.
It includes: baseball bats, metal pipes and bricks; “anything else that can be used for a ‘riot’” will be prohibited at the park, according to a bulletin.
Similar items have been banned in areas adjacent to the park, which has drawn demonstrators for and against President Trump.
Check out the list here.
“The city will work to safeguard our community while facilitating the peaceful expression of the First Amendment,” the bulletin says.
Watch live: Counter-protesters fill the streets in Berkeley despite canceled rally
As the number of demonstrators grows in Berkeley, so do the number of people being taken into police custody
As the number of people Sunday’s demonstrations against hate groups and the Trump administration grows in Berkeley, so has the number of people detained for fighting and wearing masks that the city has prohibited.
Several people were taken into custody by police in MLK Park as fights between Trump supporters and opponents broke out. Some were detained by police for wearing masks.
Trump detractors continue to vastly outnumber his supporters and are surrounding the Trump fans and chanting “No Trump, No KKK, no fascist USA!”
Trump supporter: ‘I’m doing my part being out here’
At Martin Luther King Park in downtown Berkeley, the news media and Trump opponents vastly out numbered the handful of Trump supporters who had come out.
Jordan Davis, 25, wore a Trump for president flag like a cape over a T-shirt depicting George Washington playing guitar and Abraham Lincoln playing drums.
Davis lives in Berkeley and thought it was important to come out and show that the president has some support in these “liberal Marxist enclaves.”
That said he was disappointed more people hadn’t showed up, because today had been circled on his calender for months.
“I’m doing my part being out here. I support the president’s America first message.”
As Davis spoke, a half a dozen Trump opponents stood on top of the fountain in the middle of the park and sang, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.”
Local authorities had released a long list of prohibited items and were searching bags before people entered the park. Several protesters were later escorted out of the park because they were either wearing goggles or other items that covered their faces.
Bay Area SURJ organizers urge their members to stand together, be disciplined — but fight back
Music blared from speakers on Sunday at Ohlone Park as dozens of people gathered for a rally and march to denounce racism and fascism, part of a series of protests expected in Berkeley in response to a canceled anti-Marxism demonstration.
“We need to do everything in our power to undermine and do away with white supremacists and white supremacy itself,” said Jeff Conant, with Showing up for Racial Justice, known as Bay Area SURJ.
SURJ, a decentralized grass-roots organization dedicated to racial justice, organized the event with other activist and liberal groups under the Bay Area Resistance umbrella, including the National Lawyers Guild and the Anti Police-Terror Project.
Conant said the group wanted to take a stand against people who spew hate speech, as well as the criminalization of antifa leftists by police.
SURJ members are encouraged not to engage in acts of violence, Conant said, but some have been trained in self-defense and medical response. Members toted pastel pink and purple wooden shields colorfully decked with stenciled animals and anti-hate slogans, placards that Conant said served to promote a peaceful message and doubled as a tool for protection.
As of Sunday afternoon, SURJ group members were coordinating with organizers of another rally in Martin Luther King Civic Center Park, where the “Say No To Marxism” rally was to be held before organizer Amber Cummings scrapped the event. The groups were planning to merge.
Before the march, demonstrators gave instructions on safety precautions and presented speeches and poetry from a makeshift stage on the bed of a truck. They urged marchers not to respond to white supremacists or police officers. They were warned to not video record their march, and to distrust reporters because a video crew from a far right web blog had been found in the crowd.
“Be disciplined, move together,” Tur-Ha Ak, leader of the Anti-Police Terror Project, told the crowd. “But fight back.”
Legal observers from the National Lawyers Guild milled about the crowd urging demonstrators to write the organization’s hotline phone number on their arms, in event of arrest.
Street artists and humorists also were present.
“The humor element is crucial here. It is what makes the difference,” said Lincoln Cushing, 64, an archivist from Berkeley and a Marxist. On his head was a large paper hat festooned with Karl Marx line dancers.
Berkeley Police: ‘We don’t want a car to be able to get through here and go rogue on us’
In the wake of the Charlottesville attack, authorities in Berkeley are using dump trucks to block roadways and protect demonstrators rallying against hate groups and the Trump administration Sunday morning.
More than a week ago, a man rammed a car into anti-racist protesters in Virginia, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring at least 19 others.
As a result, authorities in Berkeley used city trucks to block several roads.
At the corner of University and Oxford, police lined a parade of dump trucks to form a barricade.
“Ideally we don’t want a car to be able to get through here and go rouge on us,” One police officer could be heard saying.
Freedom Rally organizers have left Crissy Field, but the police are out in force
Freedom Rally organizers confront protesters at Crissy Field; shouting and hugs ensue
The right-wing Freedom Rally may have been canceled, but organizers showed up at San Francisco’s Crissy Field anyway Saturday afternoon and talked with counter-protesters.
The scene was reminiscent of demonstrations in the area last spring, but there were many fewer helmeted or masked individuals on either side, and several of the encounters ended with hugs.
Kathryn Townsend, one of the original organizers and speakers for the Freedom Rally, said she wanted to make sure that she had a presence in the park even if the rally itself was canceled
“Our event was from 2 to 5, and I determined that I would be here from 2 to 5,” she said.
Her phone rang with a call from a friend.
“It’s really cool,” she said. “A lot of people are here.”
Townsend asked a man in a red Make America Great Again cap to lower his voice as he shouted at a counter-demonstrator.
In the meantime, federal park police stood by from a short distance away, watching.
Photo gallery: Counter-demonstrations in San Francisco
‘They will attack us for wearing red white and blue’
It wouldn’t be a protest in San Francisco without some yoga
It wouldn’t be a protest in San Francisco without some yoga to begin the day.
Just before a “Peace Love & Understanding” concert and rally kicked off at the city’s Civic Center, about 30 people were breathing deeply and moving from one pose to the next.
Seva Simran Singh, 35, led the group in a meditation to “clear the inner landscape, feel some more peace and create a chance of common understanding,” he said.
Singh lives nearby and after the yoga ended he said he didn’t really see this gathering as a counter-protest.
“The time for silence has past. We need to express a message of peace,” he said
There were food trucks and entrepreneurs selling buttons and shirts to a crowd that looked to be numbered in the thousands.
Groups of friends brought blankets and were sitting in the grass, making signs and listening to the music. Some squeezed under rows of trees to find some shade.
When Sarah Green, 35, heard that the rally organized by the Patriot Prayer group had been canceled, she felt “some empathy for those who couldn’t express themselves.”
Not Nazis or white supremacists, however. She said those bigots should stay away.
On the other side of the crowded park outside the Civic Center, Tony Massara, 62, proudly held his homemade sign. It read: “Yahtzee!! Wait did he say Nazi?!? I hate Nazis!!”
Standing with his wife, Jan, the San Francisco resident explained that his father served during the London Blitz during World War II.
“These are my Nazis and my war,” he said. “I’d feel like a coward if I got a scone and stayed home. The greatest generation showed up for their Nazis. I have to show up for mine.”
Thousands take to the streets in separate marches in protest against scrapped far-right rallies
With no sign of far-right demonstrators at San Francisco’s Alamo Square Park, hundreds of counter-protesters began making their way toward the Mission District on Saturday afternoon, chanting and holding signs denouncing fascists.
The result was a makeshift conglomeration of activists and members of organizations representing immigrants, LGBTQ rights, Black Lives Matter, as well as other liberal and pro-communist groups.
“Hey, hey, ho, ho, neo-Nazis have to go,” some chanted.
Meanwhile, hundreds more counter-protesters gathered at Harvey Milk Plaza and Dolores Park for anti-hate rallies. The events had been planned over the past few weeks as alternatives to the Patriot Prayer group’s since-canceled “Freedom Rally” at Crissy Field Beach.
Crowds from those marches merged into one and were making their way down the streets of the city in the direction of the Civic Center.
Organizers said they expected to join a “Peace Love & Understanding” rally organized by a Bay Area coalition of citizens, community groups, activists and artists.
Before the marches, a few dozen people gathered at Dolores Park in preparation of the “LovedUp Dance” rally. Katie Painter, 35, the co-organizer of the event, said it was meant to celebrate the diversity of San Francisco and the search for solutions to a tumultuous national climate.
“This event is not about what they [the far-right] are about,” she said. “It is about what we are about.”
Photos: Far-right rally is canceled in San Francisco, but counter-protesters take to the streets anyway
A right-wing rally scheduled to take place Saturday in San Francisco was canceled.
But that didn’t stop counter-protesters from taking to the streets of the city with a message that far-right groups, including neo-Nazis and white supremacists, are not welcome in this liberal town.
L.A. Times photographer Marcus Yam is in the Bay Area this weekend. Here’s some of what he’s seen so far.
Hundreds of counter-protesters march from Alamo Square Park to the Mission
Counter-protesters flood the streets around Alamo Square Park
Hundreds of counter-protesters, anti-fascists and members of the Democratic Socialists of America seemed to have completely overtaken the area around Alamo Square Park on Saturday, where the Patriot Prayer group was supposed to stage a news conference in place of a canceled rally at Crissy Field Beach, a few miles away.
City officials had announced earlier that Alamo Square would be closed, and barriers were erected around the park.
“This is a victory rally!” one activist told the crowd over a microphone. “This is a victory over white supremacy.”
Many in attendance said they felt moved to march despite the cancellation of the rally and the news conference. They wanted to send a clear message that far-right groups, including white supremacists and Nazis, would not be tolerated in San Francisco, they said.
Kelly Schultz, a high school teacher from nearby Richmond, held a sign parodying a famous line from Quentin Tarantino’s film “Inglouriouo Basterds.” The movie centers on a guerilla military group hunting and murdering Nazis in occupied France during World War II.
Schultz, who said she did not condone violence, toned down the film’s bloody rhetoric a bit. Her sign read, “I’m here for one thing and one thing only: educatin’ Nazis.”
“We thought it was important to put our bodies on the line,” said Schultz, 27. “I don’t really have an opinion on what they’re doing, but I thought it was important to be out here against it.”
Answering the ‘call of duty’ at ‘Peace Love & Understanding’ rally
San Francisco resident Bessy Proctor felt it was her duty to come to the Civic Center on Saturday to counter the far-right gatherings slated to occur in other parts of the city.
She arrived nearly an hour before the festivities were scheduled to kick off to get a good spot near the stage where musicians and artists will be performing this afternoon.
Her friend Joel Cook joined her with a large sign and a red bandanna. They’ve both been attending rallies since President Trump’s victory last fall.
“There are so many beautiful things we could’ve done today,” Cook said. “But it was a call of duty. We had to come out in force.”
They sat on a tie-dyed blanket waiting for the show to begin. Proctor said she was particularly excited to hear comedian Marga Gomez perform.
The rally is called “Peace Love & Understanding,” and one of its organizers, Arielle Goren, said that bands including Momma Boyz, Brothers Comatose, Malo and others would be playing.
Protestors march into Crissy Field, site of canceled far-right rally
Hundreds of anti-fascist protesters gather near Alamo Square Park
Hundreds of anti-fascist protesters marshaled near Alamo Square Park in San Francisco around 11:30 a.m. Saturday, breaking into chants as they demanded to be allowed past police barricades.
At the same time, dozens of demonstrators shouting, “Let us in!” and holding signs that said “Resist the right” stood at the intersection of Fell and Steiner streets, surrounding a few dozen city police officers wearing riot helmets and riding motorcycles.
Joey Gibson, organizer of a now-canceled far-right rally, was supposed to hold news conference at the park at 2 p.m..
Gibson canceled the outdoor news conference earlier Saturday morning.
In a text message to the Los Angeles Times and several social media posts, Gibson said the event would be relocated to an indoor location, but did not immediately indicate where.
Counter-protesters march the streets looking for a new spot to gather
Small groups of activists and counter-protesters on Saturday were marching the streets of San Francisco and deciding on new gathering points after a far-right rally at Crissy Field was scrapped.
On Marina Boulevard, about 20 activists with various pro-communist organizations and labor unions held signs opposing fascism and awaited more demonstrators. Organizers of the “Anti-Racist Rally” said they were determined to make their presence known.
“It is a very fluid situation,” said Peter Turner, 70, who described himself as a merchant seaman and a longtime communist. “Fascism doesn’t go away by ignoring it. History has taught us that.”
Charles Rachlis, 60, said multiple coalitions of church groups, civil rights activists, socialists and anarchists were organizing to combat the presence of the far right in the city.
“Wherever the fascists are, there are going to be working people there to kick them out of town,” he said.
News conference in Alamo Square Park cancelled
The organizer of a far-right rally in San Francisco has cancelled a Saturday afternoon press conference in Alamo Square Park, claiming police have blocked access to the area.
Joey Gibson said he will now hold the press conference at 2 p.m. from an indoor location instead, according to a Facebook post.
Gibson, who is the founder of the Patriot Prayer advocacy group, did not say where that location would be, however.
He added that he will also “pop up at random spots in the city to talk with any citizens of SF.”
Candlelight and strains of ‘We Are the World’ on the streets of San Francisco
Berkeley right-wing protest organizer explains cancellation in letter
The following statement was sent to The Times by Amber Cummings, the organizer of Sunday’s scheduled right-wing protest in Berkeley, asking that no one come to the event. A Facebook page advertising the event lists it as canceled.
“I DO NOT WANT ANYONE COMING,” Cummings wrote, and added, “I will attend this event alone.”
To the press and to the people,
I am releasing this statement to inform the people that I am asking that no one come to my event “No to Marxism in America” Being held in Berkeley California at 1pm August 27th at MLK Park. In light of all the violent threats taking place and the past history of police being ordered to stand down at Prior Rallies in Berkeley this gives me grave concerns for the safety of the people attending my event. My event seems to have lost its meaning in the press and the intent seems to not be getting out there. My event is to speak out against the political violence happening to people who do not agree with Marxist ideology and I wanted to point out that people are being attacked In a ruthless violent manor by thugs like Antifa and BAMN.
This all needs to stop and we need the violence to come to an end. I have concerns that Antifa and BAMN will attack my people attending the event and in good conscience I cannot risk this happening. I am asking the people to not attend this event Sunday and I apologize for this. I just feel that terrorist groups like Antifa and BAMN are trying to incite riots and violence I will not let them succeed.
That being said I stress DO NOT ATTEND THIS RALLY PLEASE. This rally will take place, but it will be me alone attending, no one else please. The city of Berkeley will not allow us protective gear to protect ourselves from objects thrown at our people like and this is one if my many concerns. Past experience shows that Antifa has thrown rocks, m80 explosives, and many other dangerous items that could kill a person and without some protective gear that might happen and that concerns me. Antifa is people that do not care who they attack. They attack our veterans, our police, elderly, and they do not care who they attack and act like violent terrorists and I cannot and will not allow innocent people to be hurt or subjected to this violence. People come to rallies in these cities with the expectation they will be safe and the police will be allowed to do there jobs. In the past that has not been so and police were ordered to stand down.
That being said I will be attending the event alone. I stress I DO NOT WANT ANYONE COMING and if they do you will be turned away, I’m sorry for this but I want this event to happen peacefully and I do not want to risk anyone getting harmed by terrorists. I do not want the risk of violence happening or anyone getting hurt. I will attend this event alone and I stress please stop the violence. If In the event I am hurt or killed attending this rally. I ask you to please not retaliate on each other as result of my injuries. Let my life be the last one lost and hopefully we can wake up to the fact that we are one America and it is time we stop allowing the extreme people on the Alt Left and Alt right instigate us into more violence. Let Berkeley be the place where we decided to come together as Americans and talk and end all the violence and start healing as Americans.
Let the best ideas be heard and let that be the winners, lets stop worrying whos left or whos right. Let the best ideas be heard and lets start healing this nation. Again I stress If my life is lost , I am pleading that no one is to extract revenge on my behalf. If you want to honor my life lost , then start to come together and work with each other. This madness has to stop at some point, lets please end the violence and lets start talking on both sides and stop screaming at each other.
We may not agree with each other on everything. However we can find middle ground as Americans and work together to make this a better place for us all to live. I will be at Berkeley at 1pm and I expect to do this alone. Please do not attend this rally, I will stand alone in the park but I am not alone in spirit as I know the American people are with me and stand with me in healing this nation and it needs to start somewhere. I stand up for all the American people who want to heal this nation and stop the fighting. I stand for all of you and I wanna see both sides come together and this violent terrorism stopped. Thank you and please respect and honor my wishes. ,I will do this alone. Thank you
Counter-protesters ‘intend to mobilize,’ and say they aren’t fooled by news of canceled rally
About 30 activists gathered late Friday at UC Berkeley to discuss preparations for protests against the far right in San Francisco and Berkeley this weekend.
Yvette Felarca, with the liberal group By Any Means Necessary, said her organization would not be fooled by an announcement from the Patriot Prayer group that its Saturday rally had been canceled. She urged counter-protesters to come out in force.
“We intend to mobilize as many people as possible,” she said.
Far-right protests in San Francisco, Berkeley canceled amid safety concerns
Organizers of right-wing rallies planned in San Francisco and Berkeley this weekend have canceled the events, saying they were concerned about the safety of participants.
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.”
Berkeley far-right rally not permitted but appears to be happening
With the San Francisco far-right rally planned for Saturday canceled, there is more focus on the second rally planned for Sunday in Berkeley.
Though past rallies have been held in Berkeley parks without permits, the sponsor of Sunday’s “No to Marxism in America” rally did seek one. It was denied.
An organizer said she was told on Wednesday by the city manager’s office that the permit application failed to include plans for first aid and sanitary services, and that she had failed to provide sufficient identification.
As of late Friday afternoon, the Facebook event page for the rally remained active, with more than 300 respondents indicating they would attend.
San Francisco activists cheer cancellation of far-right rally
News that organizers had cancelled a far-right protest planned for Saturday in San Francisco was seen as a partial victory by counter-protesters.
“Wow, it sounds like we’re having success ahead of time,” said Shanta Driver, the Chicago-based counsel for By Any Means Necessary, as she waited to board a plane for San Francisco.
Driver said the cancellation showed “white nationalists know they are a tiny minority in America, and there was absolutely no way they could rally in the city of San Francisco.”
Not so, she said, for those expected to be drawn to Sunday’s rally in Berkeley, the site of repeated clashes involving white nationalists and anti-fascists.
“I think the people who are coming to Berkeley, they come armed and ready and they come to do physical harm,” Driver said.
Scenes from San Francisco
Berkeley officials hopeful Sunday far-right rally might be canceled as well
The announcement by organizers of a far-right rally planned for Saturday in San Francisco left Berkeley officials hopeful the same might happen to a similar event planned for Sunday in that city.
Sunday’s rally against Marxism is expected to draw throngs of counter-protesters.
“We have heard about it. We are proceeding under the assumption the Sunday event will happen here and taking all of the necessary precautions,” said Karina Ioffee, communications director for Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín.
Berkeley has been on edge about the Sunday event. Rallies earlier this year led to clashes between far-left and far-right protesters that turned violent.
City officials have expressly banned weapons, sticks, projectiles and even soda cans from gatherings of more than 100 people within the city limits.
‘It doesn’t seem safe,’ organizer says in canceling San Francisco far-right rally
Organizers said they canceled Saturday’s planned right-wing rally in San Francisco because of safety concerns.
Joey Gibson, founder of the Patriot Prayer group, in a Facebook Live post said that his group had been working with police and “decided that tomorrow really seems like a setup.”
“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. “The rhetoric from Nancy Pelosi, Mayor [Ed] Lee, the media – all these people are saying we are white supremacists and it’s bringing in tons of extremists. It just seems like a huge setup, so we just decided that we are going to take the opportunity and not fall into that trap and we are not going to go down there. We are not going to have a rally at Crissy Field.”
Instead, Gibson said, the group would hold a news conference at 2 p.m. Saturday at Alamo Square Park in San Francisco to talk about “some of the rhetoric” in the city.
“We have a lot of respect for the citizens in San Francisco and at the end of the day, we want people to be safe,” he said.
The park was supposed to be closed off, Gibson said, so organizers could control the event, search people who were entering and turn others away.
But he said that it appeared that wasn’t going to happen.
“Anyone could have come in and it would have been mingling [anti-fascist groups]. Also white supremacists could have shown up,” Gibson said.
“Honest, in our opinion, it seem like it would have been a huge riot,” he said.
Law enforcement has spent weeks planning for the events in San Francisco and Berkeley. At the center of the campaign will be a huge police presence, perhaps more than a thousand officers who intend to crack down at the first sign of trouble.
The San Francisco Police Department planned to have its entire roster on duty for Saturday afternoon’s rally. Officials said they could not immediately comment Friday on if they’re plans would change for the following day in light of Gibson’s announcement.
In Berkeley, the site of Sunday’s rally, city officials have expressly banned weapons, sticks, projectiles and even soda cans from gatherings of more than 100 people within the city limits. The National Park Service, which operates the land where Saturday’s protest was to take place, has established similar rules.
Organizers for both rallies this weekend have said that the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who surfaced in Charlottesville are not welcome at their events. Gibson had demanded that white nationalist figures such as Richard Spencer and Nathan Damigo stay away.
Last week, Gibson told The Times he was concerned that some extreme or racist figures might try to co-opt his rally, a fear shared by experts who track hate groups. He has repeatedly denied the assertion that his event is a “white supremacist” demonstration and criticized politicians who branded it as such.
“You’ve got two different people in this world right now. You have people that are trying to change hearts and minds of people, and you have people who are trying to divide the country,” he said.
The need for stronger crowd control became clear in the wake of the violent clashes this month between white supremacists and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Va., where demonstrators on each side complained of lax law enforcement.
But hands-off policing can also allow events to spiral out of control. Anaheim police drew criticism last year after a violent Ku Klux Klan rally. Uniformed officers were nowhere to be found when Klansmen arrived in Pearson Park, and several people were stabbed during a series of brawls between Klan members and anti-racist protesters.
“One of the most difficult things we do in our profession is policing 1st Amendment activity,” said LAPD Deputy Chief Bob Green, who has served as a commander at dozens of protest scenes during his 30-year career.
Sunday’s rally in Berkeley, branded by organizers as an anti-Marxism demonstration, has drawn additional concern. Berkeley has been home to a number of violent clashes between political opponents this year. Violent protests on the UC Berkeley campus shut down an appearance by Milo Yiannopoulos in February, and subsequent demonstrations in support of Trump collapsed into roving street fights.
Those opposed to the rallies, including San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, have called on counter-demonstrators to stage their events several blocks from the proposed far-right events. Some activists have also said they are hoping to avoid the violent exchanges that have marred Berkeley in recent months. One woman affiliated with Pastel Bloc in Berkeley, who would only speak on condition of anonymity, said she hopes the number of counter-protesters will swell because of the planned nonviolence.
“By not directly confronting the white supremacists, who have brought weapons and started fights before, maybe people who have been hesitant to come show solidarity will feel more empowered to do so,” she said, adding that Pastel Bloc itself will not take part in Sunday’s events.
Even with vows of nonviolence on both sides, law enforcement leaders said they are well aware that it would only take a few agitators to cause a fracas. The issue with policing protests, they say, is that it becomes hard to isolate violent individuals in crowds that often number in the thousands.
Green said preparation is critical to minimizing violence at any large-scale demonstration, adding that the move to disarm protesters in the Bay Area is a good idea.
Organizer of far-right rally in San Francisco cancels weekend event
The controversial far-right rally scheduled to take place near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco has been canceled, the event organizer said in a Facebook live video on Friday afternoon.
Breaking: San Francisco rally reportedly scrapped
He wants to protest the far-right rally in San Francisco without being there, so he’s asking dogs to do their worst
Tuffy Tuffington was wrestling last week with how to civilly protest the upcoming conservative “Patriot Prayer” rally in San Francisco when his two dogs began “doing their business” in Golden Gate Park.
That gave him an idea.
“I suddenly had this image in my head of a bunch of alt-right protesters marching through a field of poop,” Tuffington, a 45-year-old graphic designer, told The Times.
That’s when Operation: Doggy Droppings was born.
State politicians pressed unsuccessfully for cancellation of San Francisco rally over fear of violence
California politicians have worried for more than a week that a planned Patriot’s Prayer rally in San Francisco could lead to violence.
They were unsuccessful in appealing for the National Park Service to cancel the event at Crissy Field this weekend.
Bay Area police plan overwhelming force, zero tolerance as far-right, anti-fascist groups expected to clash
Back-to-back rallies this weekend that are expected to draw far-right figures and large groups of counter-protesters to the Bay Area will offer a test of whether police can prevent the violence that plagued similar protests earlier this year.
Law enforcement has spent weeks planning for the events in San Francisco and Berkeley. At the center of the campaign will be a huge police presence, perhaps more than 1,000 officers who intend to crack down at the first sign of trouble.