This Friday, city leaders will rally concerned citizens and host an afternoon event on the steps of City Hall to condemn hate and the presumed racist overtones of a planned rally in Crissy Field this Saturday. The rally, which still needs a final permit from the National Park Service, has been the source of extensive hand-wringing and much bluster on social media in the Bay Area, despite denials from its organizer that it will have any neo-Nazi or white supremacist elements like those who showed up in Charlottesville.
The counter-protest and rally will take place at noon on Friday on the steps of City Hall.
Having observed several earlier dustups in Berkeley in which the word "patriot" was put in the title and to which many armed individuals showed up on both the far right and far left ends of the spectrum to do battle, SF Mayor Ed Lee has urged the NPS not to issue a final permit for the rally out of concern for public safety.
Supervisor London Breed tells the Examiner, "Many members of the public have reached out to me and other officials to express their outrage. They have also expressed a strong desire for a peaceful anti-protest." She added, "As a city, we believed it was important to provide that alternative, on our own day on our own terms, to hopefully change the narrative from violence and racism to love and unity."
Meanwhile on Saturday, multiple other protest and rally events are planned in different parts of the city in order to give protesters outlets to express their anger and displeasure over the Patriot Prayer event and racist rhetoric in general on the alt-right, all without having to confront any attendees directly in Crissy Field something that may lead to physical altercations.
SF drag queen Juanita More!, along with multiple local organizations, is hosting a Saturday afternoon event in the Castro called "Come Together," with the tagline "Celebrate love and say no to hate." Longtime activist Cleve Jones has already given the event his ringing endorsement, and over 1200 people have expressed interest in attending on Facebook.
"Our city is coming together this weekend to resist hate and bigotry," Juanita tells SFist. "There are protests, non-profit events, dance parties and marches being planned from one end to the other. All of them to express our collective disgust with white supremacy, facism, and nazism. I am in support of all of the events and stand with the community and will not let the alt-right take us back in time."
She continues, "In my heart the best place for me to bring my San Francisco family together is at Harvey Milk Plaza where I will be joined by leaders from the Transgender Law Center, SF NAACP, SF LGBT Center, The National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Immigration Law Center , API Wellness Center, The Women's March, The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, Bay Resistance, Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice and more."
The Castro event is planned to go from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, and will likely be followed by a march to Civic Center culminating in another planned rally there that will include music performances, comedy, and more.
There is also a candlelight vigil being organized Friday night by the San Francisco Interfaith Council, a mobile dance party starting in Dolores Park that will converge on Civic Center Saturday, and the previously announced counter-protest involving a whole lot of dog poop in Crissy Field.
Several other gatherings that are not advocating violence are nonetheless planning to confront the Crissy Field gathering head-on, including this one that will gather on Fort Mason Green, this one involving a call for clowns to mock to the alt-right rally attendees, and this larger one that is advocating for "fighting back," however a much larger planned event called "Unafraid" that was likely to draw hundreds if not thousands of counter-protesters to Crissy Field has now been canceled and its Facebook link redirects to the peaceful Civic Center rally instead.
You can read my thoughts, if you haven't already, about why I think giving the Crissy Field event any direct attention is a terrible idea.