After city officials tried – unsuccessfully – to stop a "Freedom Rally" slated to take place Saturday in San Francisco, the event's organizers abruptly canceled, telling those who had planned on attending that they feared demonstrators were being “set up” by left wing protesters intent on violently attacking them.
Joey Gibson, one of the rally's organizers, said that his group, Patriot Prayer, had decided to cancel the event - which was slated to take place in Crissy Field near the Golden Gate Bridge - after several conversations with San Francisco police. Instead, Gibson said the group plans to hold a hastily scheduled press conference at 2 p.m. in Alamo Square Park, according to CBS. At the press conference, Gibson said he will provide more details about his reasoning for canceling the rally.
Gibson blamed the rhetoric of politicians like Nancy Pelosi and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee for helping attract the attention of "extremists."
“After several conversations with the police and understanding, you know, the situation of what’s going on we decided that tomorrow really seems like a setup. It doesn’t seem safe,” said Gibson. “A lot of people’s lives are going to be in danger tomorrow. The rhetoric from Nancy Pelosi, Mayor Lee, the media, all these people are saying that we’re white supremacists and it’s bringing in tons of extremists. And it seems just like a huge setup.”
He also singled out members of far-left group Antifa for trying to intimidate peaceful demonstrators.
“'These Antifa thugs, these kids who dress in all black, they constantly put police officers lives in danger, our lives in danger, liberal lives in danger if they get in their way or speak out against them' said Gibson Friday afternoon.”
Sunday’s anti-Marxist rally in Berkeley is expected to proceed as planned, and Gibson urged viewers to attend that event as well.
City officials were unsurprisingly outraged by the news of the venue change, with State Sen. Scott Weiner calling it an illegal ruse to move the rally, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
“With today’s alt-right “free speech rally” at Crissy Field canceled, its organizers have called a press conference for 2 p.m. in a city park. But is it a ruse to move the rally?
That’s what a state senator tweeted Friday. Sen. Scott Weiner, D-San Francisco, said the change in plans by Portland-based Patriot Prayer was setting up “an illegal violent rally.”
“It can’t be allowed to happen,” Weiner said in a subsequent statement. With a counter rally at nearby City Hall, he predicted violence in residential neighborhoods surrounding the park.”
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said he didn’t trust Gibson, and that the city would proceed as if the rally were still happening, according to the Washington Post. Lee also asked that people not to show up to the Patriot Prayer news conference, adding that the event was unlicensed and potentially dangerous.
“Mayor Ed Lee said Friday night that despite organizers saying it’s called off, they have not cancelled the event in writing so the city is proceeding as though it’s still happening. Lee says, “We don’t trust this group. I never have from the beginning.”
He also urged people not to show up at the news conference the group plans to hold instead of the rally.”
Left-wing protesters quickly pivoted, spreading the word on social media to meet at Alamo Square at 11 a.m. to try and shut down the press conference.
So, instead of a licensed rally in a large field near the Golden Gate Bridge, Antifa and Patriot Prayer will be going head to head in a park located in a residential neighborhood.
City officials have confirmed that no licenses have been issued for the event. However, San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott has promised that there will be a police presence.
What could possibly go wrong?