SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A right-wing group on Friday canceled a “freedom rally” it had planned for Saturday near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, removing one major source of feared violence for city leaders, though others remained.
The group, known as Patriot Prayer, instead planned a news conference at a park in the city on Saturday to explain what its leader Joey Gibson called the failure of police and elected officials to keep the group safe.
Gibson said the group planned to join another rally on Sunday in nearby Berkeley — an anti-Marxist gathering hosted by a transgender supporter of President Donald Trump.
The anti-Trump organization By Any Means Necessary, which has sometimes supported violent tactics, had vowed to shut down the Berkeley rally even before it gained new prominence with the cancellation of the Saturday event.
Gibson said the rhetoric of Mayor Ed Lee and other San Francisco leaders prompted the decision to replace the rally at Crissy Field with the news conference at Alamo Park.
Gibson has said the group disavows racism and hatred.
The civic leaders are on edge following the Aug. 12 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that turned deadly.
Deirdre Hussey, spokeswoman for Lee, had no comment on the cancellation.
Earlier in the day, hundreds of people rallied raucously and danced against hate at City Hall. They held signs that read “Unite Against Hate” and cheered religious and elected officials who took the microphone to speak of love and champion diversity in a city that famously prides itself as a sanctuary for gays, minorities and people who are in the country illegally.
Hip-hop artist MC Hammer, who grew up in Oakland, railed against the hate that killed leaders in the 1960s, including President John F. Kennedy and Malcolm X.
“Hate is dangerous and we can’t sit back and say, well, let them demonstrate it’ll go away,” he told the cheering crowd. “That’s not the way hate operates so we have to stay on top of it and let it know it can’t be comfortable here in our home.”
Many groups in the city synonymous with the “Summer of Love” had planned to welcome their political opponents with unusual protests, though it wasn’t clear what would now change.
Veteran activist Cleve Jones said a planned march in the city’s Castro District was still on.
“I do not think people should think this is a victory but be extremely cautions,” Jones said after the cancellation.
Plans from other groups had included littering Crissy Field with dog poop, dispatching red-nosed clowns and a giant inflatable chicken that bears the hairstyle of President Donald Trump.
Also Friday, a judge ordered the jailing of a conservative organizer who has been scheduled to speak at the Patriot Prayer rally.
Kyle Chapman, of nearby Daly City, was arrested and charged with possession of a weapon after authorities said he was seen on video hitting a counter-protester over the head with a billy club during a chaotic March 4 demonstration in Berkeley.
Chapman was ordered to stay 300 yards away from Sunday’s rally in Berkeley.
He describes himself in social media as a proud American nationalist and ardent Trump supporter.