Right-wing gathering in San Francisco fizzles amid crackdown

Sunday, August 27, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO -- A planned right-wing rally in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge that was downgraded to a news conference at a small park fizzled further Saturday, after San Francisco police swarmed the park and city workers erected a fence around it.

An organizer for the group Patriot Prayer later spoke in suburban Pacifica with a handful of supporters after civic leaders and police in San Francisco voiced concerns they would draw angry counterprotesters and spark violence in the area known as the cradle of the free-speech movement.

Organizer Joey Gibson denied his group was looking for trouble. He said members had received anonymous threats on social media and feared civic leaders and law enforcement would fail to protect them.

"My hope is to be able to talk to normal citizens without all the extremists," Gibson, who identifies as Japanese American, said at the news conference.

Other speakers included African Americans, a Latino and a Samoan American. Several said they support Donald Trump and want to join with moderates to promote understanding and free speech.

The pivots by the group didn't deter more than 1,000 left-wing counterprotesters from descending on Alamo Square park, where they suspected right-wing supporters still might show up.

"San Francisco as a whole, we are a liberal city, and this is not a place for hate or any sort of bigotry of any kind," Bianca Harris said. "I think it's a really powerful message that we're sending to people who come here to try to spew messages of hate that it's just not welcome in this city."

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