The scheduled Patriot Prayer rally in San Francisco, organized by its leader Joey Gibson who identifies as Japanese-American, was cancelled, marking the day as a clean victory for city leaders and anti-hate groups.
Patriot Prayer was supposed to hold a rally in Crissy Field in San Francisco on Saturday, but plans were changed after thousands of counter protesters marched down Market Street and several other locations in the area, SF Chronicle reported.
Gibson, despite the overwhelming number of anti-hate protesters, still showed up in Crissy Field. There he met with only around 50 of his supporters under the shade of a tree. A news conference, which was originally planned to hit off at Alamo Square Park, was moved to a small town south of San Francisco.
City workers, according to the report, set up fences around the square in the early hours of Saturday. The police officially closed the park at around 10 a.m. and told everyone who were inside to leave the area as authorities couldn’t ensure the public’s safety.
The Patriot Prayer leader defended the group and its planned rally against many people who criticized it by labeling them as a hate group including San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Speaking in an interview conducted days before the rally, Gibson claims that the group does not support white supremacy and Neo-Nazis.
“We won’t let any extremists speak. We’ll let moderates speak. It’s a big part of the goal. We have 10 speakers now, and out of them, we have one white male speaking. There’s guy named Jake Von Ott, with Identity Europa, we tried not to let him in. There’s nothing we can do about [him attending]. We don’t want him there. We made signs saying we don’t support Identity Europa. I’ve literally disowned white supremacists [in his videos]. It’s getting old. We will not let them in. We’re not going to let the flags in. I give you my word, it’s a promise,” he said.
Despite Gibson’s defense, many people still believe that Patriot Prayer rally incites hate and racism, especially knowing that its gatherings have attracted several white supremacist groups as well as Neo-Nazis in the past.