National Park Service to Allow Far-Right Rally in S.F.

The Golden Gate Bridge is visible from Crissy Field on May 22, 2014. Crissy Field is the site for a planned far-right rally on Saturday, as well as several counter-demonstrations.

The Golden Gate Bridge is visible in May 2014 from Crissy Field, which will be the site of a planned far-right rally on Saturday, Aug. 26, as well as several counterdemonstrations. (Shara Tonn/KQED)

Updated Wednesday 3:48 p.m.

The National Park Service is approving a far-right “free speech” rally at Crissy Field planned for Saturday, according to a statement from the acting general superintendent of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

The statement from Cicely Muldoon cites the National Park Service’s “long and proud tradition of being the site of peaceful expressions of people’s views under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

San Francisco city leaders were joined by state and national representatives last week in urging the National Park Service to reject the rally hosted by the Portland-based group Patriot Prayer, in the wake of a day of deadly violence on Aug. 12 in Charlottesville, Virginia, during and after a right-wing protest against removing a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.


“The shameful, anti-American trend of hate-filled extremist rallies will unfortunately be allowed to continue this weekend in our city,” San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said in a written statement. “Since the beginning of this process, we have repeatedly stated that the public safety of San Francisco residents and visitors is our top priority. With the event now officially permitted, the San Francisco Police Department is working with the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and the United States Park Police on a comprehensive public safety plan.”

That includes a long list of banned items, according to Lee’s office. The National Park Service confirmed that firearms will not be allowed within the rally’s “permitted area,” but did not confirm the rest of the list.

Plans for public safety around the rally also include a massive police presence, including local law enforcement and the U.S. Park Police.

“You will see a very, very large presence of officers at Crissy Field, as well as other parts of the city,” SFPD Chief William Scott said at a press conference on Wednesday. “Just be assured you will see large amounts of officers.”

The head of Patriot Prayer has repeatedly denied his organization involves white nationalism, white supremacy or other bigoted ideologies. However, the organization has ties to militias that frequently show up armed to white supremacist events, and has featured white nationalist speakers.

The group says its “Freedom Rally” in San Francisco will be different, though.

“No extremists will be allowed in,” the group posted on Facebook. “No Nazis, Communist, KKK, Antifa, white supremacist, I.E., or white nationalists.”

The post goes on to state that prominent leaders of white nationalist organizations, Richard Spencer and Nathan Damigo, will not attend. Patriot Prayer head Joey Gibson told the San Francisco Examiner last week that a member of Damigo’s organization, Identity Evropa, will be in attendance, though.

That’s in addition to Kyle Chapman, known as “Based Stickman” and the “Alt-Knight,” who brawled with protesters in Berkeley on March 4. Chapman was charged with felony possession of a weapon, a leaded stick, last week and is scheduled to be arraigned in Alameda County Superior Court on Friday.

U.S. Rep. and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi criticized the park service’s issuance of the permit for what she called a “white supremacist rally at Crissy Field.”

“In San Francisco, we have great reverence for the Constitutional right to dissent and peaceful free speech,” Pelosi said in a written statement. “However, free speech does not grant the right to yell fire in a crowded theater, incite violence or endanger the public in any venue.”

With no hope of heading off the rally with red tape, Lee echoed statements of Berkeley’s mayor about an extreme right-wing, anti-Communist protest planned for that city on Sunday: Stay away.

“Do not engage with the members of this group, whose only priority is to incite violence through divisive rhetoric,” Lee’s statement says. “Instead of dignifying their display of hatred, we ask that residents join peaceful gatherings taking place at the Civic Center Plaza on Friday and Saturday at 12 p.m.”

Board of Supervisors President London Breed encouraged San Franciscans to find something else to do this weekend.

“Avoid the Crissy Field area,” she said at a press conference on Wednesday. “It is important we don’t dignify these people with a response.”

The National Park Service is also permitting counterdemonstrations related to the Patriot Prayer event. It approved a Friday candlelight vigil and press conference at Crissy Field, and two counterprotests Saturday at Ocean Beach.

Ted Goldberg, Tara Siler and John Sepulvado of KQED News contributed to this report.

National Park Service to Allow Far-Right Rally in S.F. 23 August,2017Alex Emslie

  • Curious

    Why does the left hate free speech?

    • On Dre

      Because we dont like nazis or white seperatist instigating trouble.
      #PunchANazi

      • Brux

        Woody Allen said it best at one point … I think in “Annie Hall”, paraphrasing, the only way to explain things to a Nazi is with a baseball bat.

        We are foolish to think that this kind of philosophy can coexist with democracy and tolerance … no way.

        • James Higginbotham

          YOU’VE BEEN LISTENING TO CNN TO MUCH SLICK.
          YOU ARE CLUELESS.

      • Curious

        Too bad. That is free speech.

        • “Instigating trouble” is free speech in the sense that the government may not exercise prior restraint. Consequences may involve legal sanction.

          • James Higginbotham

            instigating trouble is NOT FREE SPEECH SLICK.
            maybe you NEED TO RE-READ THE FIRST AMENDMENT.

          • Maybe you NEED TO RE-READ my full sentence. It seems your attention span faded after 5 words.

          • James Higginbotham

            i read it FULLY, AND YOUR WRONG.

          • My wrong what?

          • James Higginbotham

            WHAT’ you are actually SURPRISED THAT YOU CAN BE WRONG LOL.

          • David O’Brien

            Maybe you need to look at how the U.S. Courts have been interrupting the First Amendment for the past decades. Simply “Instigating trouble” (a subjective label) has is still protected by the 1st Amendment.

          • James Higginbotham

            the courts have LIMITED free speech with their rulings, which are UNCONSTITUTIONAL.
            OR DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND THE TERM IN THE FIRST AMENDMENT, OR ABRIDGING THE FREEDOM OF SPEECH.
            as I’ve said SPEECH IS SPEECH, AND IT NOT TO BE ABRIDGED.

        • StopBeingDum

          not all speech is protected. do some research

          • Curious

            You first.

          • David O’Brien

            Did some — you’re wrong. You likely believe you’re referring to the notion that the 1A does not cover speech that incite actions that would harm others (e.g., “[S]hout[ing] ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.”). Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47 (1919).

            Now go look at the last time anyone was convicted using Schenck v. U.S.

      • James Higginbotham

        you don’t even know WHAT A DAMN NAZI IS SLICK.
        then check out the BLM AND ANTIFA IDIOLOGY IS, then SEE HOW IT LINES UP.

      • James Higginbotham

        A NAZI DOESN’T HAVE TO BE WHITE, THEY COME IN MANY COLORS, LIKE BLM AND ANTIFA.’
        BUT OF COURSE YOU WOULDN’T KNOW THAT, YOU AND OTHERS LIKE YOU ARE TO BUSY LISTENING TO THE PROPAGANDA OF THE LEFT I BET YA NEVER TOOK THE TIME TO CHECK THE REAL HISTORY.

      • Curious

        Antifa and leftists thugs are terrorists.

        • StopBeingDum

          you’re a terrorist.

    • Cynthia Campbell

      1: Since when is being against white supremacy, neo-Nazis, and fascism a left or right issue? I’d say it’s a patriotic issue.
      2: The left doesn’t hate free speech. Those racist monsters have every right to spew their filth. And patriots of every political persuasion have every right to counter protest them until they’re shamed back under the rock they crawled out of. No one has a right to avoid the repercussions of their speech.

      • Brux

        >> Those racist monsters have every right to spew their filth.

        I think we need to see this a new way. This is not free speech, this is free hate and intimidation, not to mention publicity … this is exactly what got Trump elected, and if we follow the sinkhole of absolutism of free speech for its sounds and emotional tone while we lose the country or are intimidated … or worse, even normalize this ugliness … we all lose. As out of band and politically incorrect as AntiFa’s image is and they claim to be, I am liking to see people confronting Nazis, and only a very slow witted stupid person would be attracted to KKK/Nazism because of sympathy due to their being harassed punched or acted on.

        I don’t like even saying that, but I like less feeling like I have to. This is something the FBI and all our security agencies have let grow to cancerous metastasized level, and to treat these like people like normal protestors with an actual legitimate issue is asking for even more trouble.

        • Curious

          Ignorance.

          • Curious

            Great debate skills!

      • Curious

        Ignorance….

      • Curious

        Antifa and the left are violent thugs. They are the problem. Attacking those exercising their free speech is antithetical to American values.

      • Curious

        Huh. After years of thinking it over, Floyd Corkins finally had a plan.

        He’d bought a gun and learned how to use it. He’d loaded three magazines. And he had stopped by Chick-fil-A to pick up 15 sandwiches, which he planned to smear in the dying faces of staffers he expected to kill at the Family Research Council in Washington.

        In the 2012 shooting at FRC that injured a security guard, convicted domestic terrorist Floyd Lee Corkins II said he targeted the group because the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) identified them as a “hate group” due to their traditional marriage views.

        “Southern Poverty Law lists anti-gay groups,” Corkins told interrogators in a video. “I found them online, did a little research, went to the website, stuff like that.”

    • Brux

      So you are going to post all these right-wing untruthful memes. Face it, you are not ready for civilization. You do have to exist somewhere, but I am sad that it is in the US where you pit yourself against our very Constitution and life-style. Shame on you!

      • Curious

        Shame on you and your ignorance.

    • StopBeingDum

      Why do you hate America? Why are you so stupid? Isn’t it great how someone can frame a question to make it look like they are making a statement?

  • saimin

    The Alt Right were empowered by their guns in Charlottesville. The press release says guns (as well as cars) will be banned from Crissy Field. If they can’t bring their weapons, how many of them will show up?

    • Curious

      It’s the violent left wingers that is the concern.

      • jdra

        who killed a woman in Charlottesville?

      • Brux

        Curious … there is no equivalence. You are in the vast minority of the right-wing fringe trying to make up some way to appear respectable, but there simply is no way to support KKK/NAZIS and be respectable.

        • Curious

          There is no way to support leftwing violence.

          • Brux

            >> There is no way to support leftwing violence.

            LOL – a bit harsh, but at least there is such a thing as Left-Wing evidence, they Right-Wing doesn’t seem to need even that.

        • James Higginbotham

          no one is supporting the KKK OR NAZIS, IT’S OUR RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH THAT’S THE ISSUE.
          and the BLM AND ANTIFA THUGS WHO START THE VIOLENCE BECAUSE THEY ONLY SUPPORT SPEECH IF ANOTHER AGREES WITH THEM AND THEIR COMMUNIST IDIOLOGY.

    • James Higginbotham

      YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT THE HELL YOUR EVEN TALKING ABOUT SLICK.
      it was the BLM AND ANTIFA THUGS WHO STARTED THE VIOLENCE IN VIRGINIA THAT’S BEEN PROVEN.

      • Feel free to share proof. From reputable sources, I mean.

        • James Higginbotham

          VIRGINIA IS PROOF, UNLESS YOUR A CNN FAN,

        • Brux

          Read this clown’s posts … why are you bothering to reply, he cannot do basic spelling and grammar, he is a troll just trying to bother everyone

  • Daniel

    So BAMN and that crazy middle school teacher is going to be there along with her minions.

  • Brux

    It is a real shame that we have to go through this again with Nazis, KKK, the hateful and intolerant.

    That said, as much as I believe in freedom of speech in the press, media, to other people, when it
    comes to rallies that would be taking over the country, or causing violence, intimidation and hate,
    there absolutely must be a more nuanced and specific code to deal with this kind of thing.

    I do not believe hate groups dedicated to the overthrow of the government, the Constitution and
    the removal of human rights to certain groups should have to the right to do this, period.

    I don’t know what kind of moral or legal framework this falls under, but if it is not done, given the
    power and manipulation of certain huge blocks of money and political interest we face a needless
    and existential threat to the United States, the Constitution, and if the USA fell, to the world as well.

    With all our surveillance power, firepower and security, we cannot defend against the systematic
    privatized communication and corruption of our citizens by powers we do not know or understand
    and can do nothing about.

    We do not know what kind of people are in our government that may be hidden agents that will
    assist in this threat of overthrow.

    I just feel like a lot of people are lazy, bored, complacent or they just do not understand the nature of
    the threat and how history could turn.

    Oddly to me, the one bright spot in this that I never thought I would be appreciating is this
    AntiFa thing, and I don’t really know that much about it. Any group that has the guts and energy
    to go out and confront KKK and Nazis even to the point of violence is a group I can appreciate.

    I don’t think I’ve ever had a political evolution on any issue so fast, but this happened already in
    the last century and we are idiots if we do not do whatever we can to stop this internal threat.
    These are ugly people with a hidden organization, wealth and power and this country needs to
    go to war with these people far more than it needs to go to war with ISIS because the threat is
    even greater.

    • James Higginbotham

      if you, as you say DON’T KNOW ENOUGH ABOUT THIS ANTIFA THING?
      THEY ARE COMMUNIST PAID FOR BY GEORGE SORO’S AND HIS GLOBALIST PALS TO TRY AND USE THEM AS BROWN SHIRTS TO STIFLE FREE SPEECH, EVEN IF’S IT’S SPEECH YOU DON’T LIKE.
      ALL PEOPLE HAVE THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT OF FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AS LONG AS THEY DON’T CREATE A RIOT AND VIOLENCE WHICH THE LEFTIST AND THEIR SUPPORTERS ARE TRYING SO HARD TO DO.

      • Brux

        >> THEY ARE COMMUNIST PAID FOR BY GEORGE SORO’S

        Do you really think that ( because you cannot write it grammatically )?
        Do you really think others would buy that BS?
        Shirley you cannot be serious.

        • George Soro’s what, I wonder? And don’t call me, surely.

  • David O’Brien

    Just love how the “Far-Left” at KQED gave to this article. Instead of “Far-Right Rally” they could have written “Patriot Prayer Rally” and been factual and unemotional. This is what I expect out of KQED, not rhetoric.

Author

Alex Emslie

Alex Emslie is a criminal justice reporter at KQED. He covers policing policy, crime and the courts.

He left Colorado and a career as a carpenter in 2008 to study journalism at City College of San Francisco. He then graduated from San Francisco State University’s journalism program with a minor in criminal justice studies. Prior to joining KQED in 2013, Alex freelanced for various news outlets including the Huffington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner and Bay Guardian.

Alex is proud of his work at KQED on a spike in fatal officer-involved shootings in Vallejo, which uncovered that a single officer shot and killed three suspects over the course of five months. Alex’s work with a team at KQED on police encounters with people in psychiatric crisis was cited in amicus briefs before the U.S. Supreme Court. He received the Northern California Society of Professional Journalists Best Scoop award in 2015 for exposing a series of bigoted text messages swapped by San Francisco police officers. He was honored with 2010 San Francisco Peninsula Press Club and California Newspaper Publishers Association awards for breaking news reporting on the trial following the shooting of Oscar Grant. Email: aemslie@kqed.org. Twitter: @SFNewsReporter.

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