Sunday, August 27, 2017

What Ever revE tahW

When a group of far-right activists came to San Francisco to hold a rally yesterday, they were met by peace activists offering them flowers to wear in their hair.

The presence of Patriot Prayer, whose “free speech” events in the Pacific north-west have frequently sparked violent street battles, in notoriously liberal San Francisco has city authorities on edge.

But for many San Franciscans, an unwelcome visit from members of the “alt-right” is an opportunity to fight back in the spirit of the city by the bay – with flower power, drag queens, and a little creativity.

There were contingents of clowns, kayakers, cars, and kids – all hoping to use their particular strengths (humor, seaworthiness, the ability to monopolize parking spaces, and cuteness, respectively) to thumb their noses at hate.

“You have a significant number of creative and crazy ideas. I kind of like that,” said veteran labor and LGBTQ rights activist Cleve Jones.

Jones works with local drag queen Juanita More to host a rally and march for equality beginning at Harvey Milk Plaza in the city’s Castro district. “There’s this desire to create fear,” he said of media coverage showing torch-wielding racists spewing hateful chants. “With these kinds of creative actions, we dispel fear. We say we’re going to fight you and we’re going to have a ball doing it and we’re going to laugh and love each other.”

“When the dust has settled and the smoke has cleared,” Jones said, “I hope that the appearance of rightwing extremists in San Francisco will raise a significant amount of money for the people they seek to harm.”

At Crissy Field, a handful of Trump supporters hung out in the shade of a tree in mid-afternoon. Several members of the dejected group said they had driven from as far as Portland to attend Gibson’s rally, and were disappointed that so many of their allies were no shows.

Joey Gibson, the founder of Patriot Prayer and the main organizer of the Crissy Field rally, held several news conferences throughout the day in which he denounced San Francisco leaders for trying to restrict his speech.

A Saturday online news conference featured Gibson and Kyle Chapman — a right-wing protester who was bailed out of jail the day before —blaming the “far left” and “anti-fascist” protesters, whom they described as oppressive and violent. Chapman, who was charged with possessing an illegal weapon, was ordered to stay away from this weekend’s rallies.

He made a brief appearance in Pacifica, just south of San Francisco, saying he was “here to promote love and peace and freedom.”

About 4:30 p.m., Gibson and a small contingent of followers gathered at Crissy Field, but the group departed within an hour as counterprotesters started to gather after they heard Patriot Prayer members were there.

No comments: