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Planning to Counterprotest the Patriot Prayer Rally at Crissy Field? The Case for Standing Down

Want to beat ’em? Ignore ’em.

Black-clad counterprotesters battled alt-right protesters at a pro-Trump rally in Berkeley’s Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park on April 15.

 

After last weekend’s tragedy in Charlottesville, the news that Patriot Prayer, a Portland-based group with ties to the alt-right, plans to rally at Crissy Field next weekend felt like a punch to the gut. Though Patriot Prayer organizer Joey Gibson has denounced white supremacy, neo-nazis, and the violence in Charlottesville, the group publicly embraces alt-right figures like Kyle Chapman, aka Based Stickman, and attracts so-called ironic nazis like Twitter troll Baked Alaska. 

Good protesters of the Bay Area, please don’t take the bait. Steer clear of Crissy Field! If the recent past is any guide, counterprotesting could send us careening into another Berkeley-style riot. There was the pro-Trump rally-turned-riot on April 15, when alt-right protesters brawled with antifa and black bloc counterprotesters amid bursts of small explosives and pepper spray. And there was, of course, the intended-to-be-peaceful February 1 demonstration against a speech by erstwhile Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos, which got hijacked by black-masked protesters throwing fireworks. The issue that the protesters objected to—Yiannopoulos’s plan to out undocumented students—got drowned out by reports of the $100,000 in damage and news clips of barricades thrown through windows and giant flames. The headlines crowing about "liberal San Francisco" shutting down free speech practically write themselves.

Do we really want to be deputized as the alt-right’s PR machine? Berkeley mayor Jesse Arreguin says no. In the LA Times, he urged counterprotesters to stay home on August 27, when a “No to Marxism in America” rally will take place in Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park. “The best way to silence white nationalists is by turning your back on their message,” Arreguin said. Activist Alex U. Inn, grand marshal for the 2017 San Francisco Pride Parade, agrees. As he pointed out on Facebook, he believes that the alt-right rally will fizzle out on its own if protesters don’t have anyone to lock horns with: “The reason I’m suggesting we don’t show up is when all the fighting died down in Berkeley and we all left, they were just sitting there doing nothing. We stayed to see what they would do with each other. They come from all over and don’t know each other except to be in unison to fight.” Show up for a battle and they get to look like heroes to their followers. Stand them up and they look like the fools they are.

Don’t get us wrong: We’re not here to give hate groups a pass. Watching them disrespect the values of our city, and our nation, before our eyes—on a World War II historical site no less—is not easy. We’re with you! But standing down is not the same as giving up. If you’re raring to take action, there’s plenty to do that doesn’t involve supplying oxygen to the flames of the alt right: 

Defuse hate with dance moves. Head to Marina Green on Saturday, August 26, for the SF LovedUp Mobile Dance Counter Rally. Stand the white supremacists up while boogying down in what the organizers are billing as “a nearby, better, inclusive, visible alternative.” Dress colorfully and bring your battery-powered boomboxes, aka smartphones.

Put your money where your mouth is. Consider donating to or volunteering for one of these 64 organizations fighting for everything from immigrant rights and LGBT rights to justice for the environment and disenfranchised voters. 

Leave your dog poop on Crissy Field. Feeling petty and passive aggressive? Bring your pooch to Crissy Field on August 25 and don’t pick up. As firm believers in scooping after pooping, we don’t normally condone the willy-nilly scattering of dog waste. But if this is what it takes to keep away from Crissy Field on the 26th, have at it. The poo protesters are avoiding the protest itself—and gathering on Sunday to clean up the trampled poop.

 

 

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