At least two right-wing groups are planning to hold rallies in San Francisco and Berkeley, California later this month.
The announcements came just days after a white supremacist and neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia — where members of the far-left Antifa movement were also present — turned deadly. 32-year-old paralegal Heather Heyer was killed when a car driven by a suspected neo-Nazi rammed into a crowd of participants. At least 19 others were injured.
H. Jay Cullen and Berke M. M. Bates, two Virginia State Troopers, also died when the helicopter they were in, which was being used to monitor the demonstrations from the air, crashed.
A group known as “Patriot Prayer” is organizing a “Freedom Rally” in San Francisco’s Crissy Field Beach on Saturday, August 26. An affiliated group is attempting to gather “at least 50 cars and Bikers to attach flags and run down 101 S to kick off the Patriot Prayer rally at Crissy field in San Francisco.” The Facebook invite seeking volunteers notes that both “Patriot Prayer and 2 Million Bikers have given their thumbs up on this.”
On Sunday, August 27, the group “No to Marxism in America” will hold a rally at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Civic Center Park in Berkeley.
The Facebook invitation for the event notes:
In America we have Marxism being taught in our schools and communities. Berkeley is a ground zero for the Marxist Movement and we need to speak out and say NO to Marxism. This event is our chance to speak out and expose the plan of purging our nation from a free nation to a communist nation. We will not tolerate this in America. So we are asking people to come stand against Marxism.
The San Jose Mercury News notes, “The leader of Patriot Prayer, Joey Gibson, has publicly disavowed the attack Saturday in Charlottesville.”
Sonja Hanson, spokeswoman for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, told the San Francisco Chronicle that “Patriot Prayer” has secured a permit for its Saturday rally at Crissy Field. However, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin reportedly said that “No to Marxism” has not yet applied for a permit, which is required for groups larger than 25 people.
Arreguin said he is “deeply concerned” about the upcoming weekend’s events, and said he does not believe the rally in his town is anything more than an attempt to “spout hate speech and promote bigotry.”
“If this was really about freedom of speech — the city of Berkeley welcomes freedom of speech,” Arreguin said, according to the Chronicle. “This isn’t about that. This is about confrontation. This is about people coming to commit violence and spout hate speech and promote bigotry and promote white supremacy.” He added, “We will be prepared to keep our community safe and prevent any destruction of property.”
Hanson also noted that if there is any inkling that the event will turn violent, it will be “terminated.”
Counter-protests are reportedly being planned. According to the San Francisco Examiner, “On Facebook, a counter-protest called “Unafraid!” initially had 160 people planning to attend, though the event was shut down and re-started. Other resistance events, including Bay Resistance Brigade Paddle Out, also pledged to fight back.”
Berkeley has been the site of several riots in recent years, including clashes in April between Trump supporters and left-wing activists.
Last year, left-wing radicals in Sacramento attacked approximately three dozen members of Traditional Workers Party (TWP), a right-wing neo-Nazi affiliated group that was demonstrating. Over 400 “anti-fascist” anarchists, who were organized by a far-left group called By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), carried out the attack. Just four months before that, a group of radicals attacked members of the white supremacist Klu Klux Klan (KKK) in Anaheim, California’s Pearson Park. Members from both factions were badly injured.
*UPDATE* Event attendees reached out to Breitbart News, claiming the demonstration is not a white nationalist rally. Stories cited in this article that previously characterized the groups attending the rally as white supremacist organizations now refer to them simply as “right-wing.” The headline of this story has been updated to reflect this change.