“Anti-racists” are claiming “victory” following the cancellation of Saturday’s free speech rally in San Francisco. The rally had been organized by the Oregon-based Patriot Prayer group, led by Japanese-American Joey Gibson.
“Right now, this is victory,” San Francisco Antifa protest organizer Benjamin Sierra told the Associated Press. “They did not have enough gumption to do what they set out to do.”
But Gibson, who has publicly denounced white supremacy, neo-Nazis and all types of racism, said he canceled the rally after deciding the logistics set up by city officials and police would put the people at the rally in danger.
“At the end of the day I had to make that decision because it just felt like it was a set up — the way everything was set up,” Gibson said from an undisclosed location where he spoke with a handful of reporters on Saturday.
“All these random people mixed together — I just felt like it was going to be a huge riot,” Gibson said, adding that the police had fenced off Crissy Field, where the group had a permit to hold the rally, and would only let about 50 people inside the perimeter, then they would allow the admission of others, who would have had to pass by Antifa counter-protesters that would be allowed to gather outside the fence barrier.
Gibson said that Antifa — and the city officials that supported them — have done a good job of shutting down First Amendment-guaranteed free speech.
“They’re definitely doing a great job of trying to make sure my message doesn’t come out,” said Gibson, who has said his organization wants to promote and preserve liberty and free speech in a non-violent manner.
Gibson did speak to reporters throughout the day in an attempt to get that message out.
“Gibson …. spoke in suburban Pacifica with a handful of supporters that included African Americans, a Latino and a Samoan American,” the Associated Press reported. “Several said they support President Donald Trump and want to join with moderates to promote understanding and free speech.”
Antifa protesters, on the other hand, created problems for police on Saturday.
“Demonstrators shut down a major San Francisco freeway off-ramp Saturday and scuffled with police at the edge of Alamo Square Park during a day of protests,” the local CBS affiliate reported.
“At least one person was detained outside Alamo Square as demonstrators gathered to disrupt a press conference by the alt-right group Patriot Prayer,” CBS reported, and noted that the crowd gathered despite the fact that Gibson had canceled the press conference hours earlier.