USA far-right group cancels San Francisco weekend rally

Casey Dawson
August 27, 2017

Hundreds of protesters gathered at a San Francisco park Saturday morning and demanded to be allowed past police barricades to protest supporters of a far-right rally that was canceled.

A woman was killed at that "Unite the Right" rally when a man thought to have neo-Nazi sympathies drove his auto into a crowd of counter-protesters.

Instead, Joey Gibson and other organizers with Patriot Prayer announced earlier that the group will hold a press conference at Alamo Square Park on Saturday - with numerous same speakers expected.

Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson said the city had not given proper security measures, and he said he feared for the safety of those attending the rally.

But hours before the event was set to occur, the organizer said it would be moved indoors.

A counter rally organized by the city's elected leaders was held at the Civic Center Plaza on Friday night, as Mayor Ed Lee denounced Patriot Prayer's presence.

The National Park Service officially announced on Friday night that the "Freedom Rally", hosted by the Portland-based group Patriot Prayer, will no longer take place on Saturday.

The San Francisco Bay Area is considered a cradle for freedom of speech, and police in San Francisco have traditionally given demonstrators a wide berth.

Organizers of a planned "Patriot Prayer" rally in California canceled the original event, but plan to hold a news conference instead.

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Late Friday, it remained unclear whether rally-goers would still show up in Crissy Field.

A right-wing rally scheduled for San Francisco's Crissy Field on Saturday was called off by organizers on Friday afternoon, in a surprising reversal that left open the possibility of other violent protests this weekend. And in those weeks, several people within President Donald Trump's administration have issued statements or resigned, citing his failure to condemn white supremacists.

It marked the latest pivot by the group that initially meant to stage a rally in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge but scrapped that idea, citing threats from left-wing agitators and worries that civic leaders and law enforcement would fail to protect them.

However, San Francisco's mayor said he did not trust the group.

Prior to the cancellation of the Crissy Field rally, San Francisco and Berkeley officials urged residents opposed to the right-wing events to send a message by joining together for peaceful gatherings in locations far from the rallies.

"What happened in Boston has changed the situation, where we have seen that a large counter-protest can have the effect of discouraging hate groups from coming into a city", Arreguin said. Authorities had feared a clash could erupt between the two groups.

Some groups in the city synonymous with the "Summer of Love" had planned to welcome their political opponents with unusual weekend protests, though it wasn't clear which of those would continue.

Some people in the crowd outside City Hall on Friday held red, white and blue signs that read "Unite Against Hate".

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