Dog poop protest worked in San Francisco.
Patriot Prayer cancels Saturday event, citing ‘safety concerns’ and ‘smear campaign’ that branded group as white supremacists
A dog owner and pets at the rally site. Protesters had organized to fill the field with dog feces in anticipation of the event. Photograph: Stephen Lam/Reuters
Friday 25 August 2017 19.26 EDT Last modified on Saturday 26 August 2017 09.28 EDT
Patriot Prayer, the rightwing protest group that planned to rally in San Francisco on Saturday, has cancelled its event, citing safety concerns and a “smear campaign” by elected officials who called them “white supremacists”.
The group said it still intended to attend a rally on Sunday in nearby Berkeley, which has seen a number of violent standoffs between rightwing protesters and anti-fascist activists this year.
“We’re going to put our effort and resources into Berkeley,” Patriot Prayer organizer Joey Gibson said in a Facebook Live broadcast. “Berkeley is a better situation because we don’t feel that we’re walking into a trap.”
However, shortly after, the organizer of the Berkeley rally released a statement urging people not to come to her “No to Marxism in America” rally. Andrea Cummings said she was concerned for the safety of the people who might come to the event.
Thousands of San Franciscans were planning to mount counter-protests against the rightwing event, with residents planning to dance, march, rally, and boat in defiance of rightwing extremism. Several hundred people even announced a plan to allow their dogs to poo on the protest site in advance of the event.
The group’s intention to hold an event in the notoriously liberal San Francisco provoked considerable concern from the city’s elected officials, police, and residents, especially in the wake of the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville.
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A dog defecates at Crissy Field, the site of the now-cancelled rally. The group will go ahead with a rally planned for Sunday in Berkeley, California. Photograph: Stephen Lam/Reuters
Though Gibson has denounced white supremacy and neo-Nazis, Patriot Prayer events in the Pacific north-west have been attended by members of white nationalist groups and often devolved into violent street-fighting.
Elected officials, including House minority leader and San Francisco congressional representative Nancy Pelosi and mayor Ed Lee, unsuccessfully pressured the National Park Service to deny the group a permit for the rally. Pelosi called the group “white supremacist”.
Such characterizations amounted to a “smear campaign”, the organizers said.
“Intermingling of protesters and rally-goers would be a horrible horrible idea,” said Patriot Prayer member Gabriel Silva. “It would lead to nothing but casualties.”
“In our opinion,” said Gibson, “it seems like it would have been a huge riot.”