Sponsored link
Sunday, May 22, 2022

Sponsored link

News + PoliticsSF sends the white supremacists packing

SF sends the white supremacists packing

Large rallies sent a clear message against hate -- and the alt-right folks folded

-

San Francisco sent the white supremacists packing today.

Joey Gibson cancelled his rally at Crissy Field, saying he was afraid of violence (after the police made it clear that they would not allow any weapons and would search everyone at the lone entrance to the park).

Then he said he would hold a press conference at Alamo Square at 2pm — but the cops closed and fenced that park off, and by 11:30, hundreds and hundreds of protesters were showing up.

Crowds gather near Alamo Square

The impromptu rally, called on Facebook and organized in part by Mission activist and City College professor Benjamin Bac Sierra, soon attracted a huge crowd, at least 5,000 by my count and possibly many more.

“This is amazing,” Bac Sierra told me as we watched the throngs of people go by. “This is historic.”

The crowd marched peacefully through the Mission, with music and chants. “We are celebrating victory,” Bac Sierra said. 

Benjamin Bac Sierra gets the crowd going

And indeed, it appeared that — with no violence or threats of violence — activists in San Francisco convinced the white supremacists that this was not a good place to hold a rally. Gibson tried to livestream a press conference, but hardly anyone watched it, and his colleague, Kyle Chapman, who has been charged with beating protesters with a lead-loaded cane, seemed to get the message.

According to the Mercury News, Chapman said that 

Sponsored link

I think the best game plan moving forward is for us to take a break on rallies in liberal enclaves like Berkeley and San Francisco … and focus on rallies where we have a definite chance of a win.

A “No Marxism” rally is still planned for Berkeley tomorrow.

Several of the speakers at Alamo Square noted that city officials have tried to keep protesters from confronting the far right. In Boston, the mayor urged everyone to stay away from a white supremacist rally — but 40,000 showed up anyway, and forced the neo-Nazis to leave.

Public Defender Jeff Adachi talks about resisting white supremacy

In San Francisco, Mayor Ed Lee tried to keep people away from Crissy Field, going so far as to cut off most Muni service to the area. Paul Rose, a Muni spokesperson, told me that 

Safety will always be our top priority and this transportation plan was developed to keep Muni riders and transit staff as safe as possible.

But I heard endless complaints from people who said they wanted to show up to challenge Gibson’s crew but were frustrated that they wouldn’t be able to get there.

At first, the official line was to keep people from Alamo Square, too: Cops fenced off the entire park and surrounded it, and at one point early on tried to declare the rally an unlawful assembly. 

But people kept showing up anyway, and eventually the police brass decided to back down. They closed off the surrounding streets, opened up the intersection of Hayes and Steiner, and allowed the throng to fill Hayes all the way down the hill to Fillmore. 

Around 12:30, Bac Sierra announced that the rally would move through the Mission to 24th St, and as I stood by the side of the road, marchers kept coming. More and more seemed to arrive by the minute. As soon as one wave seemed to be thinning out, another would arrive. 

The march through the mission attracted many thousands

I don’t think I’ve ever seen this many people in a march that was organized in just a few hours.

By 2pm, we were hearing that Gibson had moved his show to Pacifica. 

The mayor held an official anti-hate rally at City Hall, which was fairly well attended, as was a rally organized by Cleve Jones and Juanita Moore in the Castro that drew several thousand. Jones is using the neo-Nazi rallies to raise money for local anti-fascist causes. So is the Jewish Bar Association of San Francisco, which even had an airplane flying overhead with a banner announcing that the “adopt a Nazi, not really” campaign has already raised $130,000.

Tomorrow, Berkeley.

UPDATE: Late in the day, Gibson and a few others showed up at Crissy Field. There was no rally. A few protesters challenged the alt-right, but Gibson never got the media or the confrontation that he apparently wanted.

MEANWHILE IN THE CASTRO (Update from Marke B): 

A very colorful crowd gathered at a peace rally and march led by drag queen Juanita More and Cleve Jones. Hundreds showed up with an array of humorous and poignant signs and t-shirts (and kites, and wagons….)

Melba Maldonado, Active Director of La Raza Community Resource Center. Photo by David Schnur
Alex U. Inn, community leader and head of Momma’s Boyz. Photo by David Schnur

Speakers included Melba Maldonado (“I wear a wool scarf today to remind myself of the heat that the victims of Joe Arpaio suffered”) and Alex U. Inn (“Women are losing more and more control of their bodies every day.”)  

Participants in the rally marched from the Castro to Civic Center. Photo by Ken Leaf.

After an hour of speakers and music, the rlly then marched to Civic Center for what turned into a vibrant dance party. 

Kites away! Photo by David Schnur

 

48 Hills welcomes comments in the form of letters to the editor, which you can submit here. We also invite you to join the conversation on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.

Top reads

SF needs $19 billion to meet state affordable housing goals—and Breed has no plan

Mayor's Office has no clue where to find the money, and won't even spend the existing Prop. I windfall right now. It's 'unbelievable.'

SF’s Lisa Esherick paints ‘how light comes crashing down into darkness’

A natural voyeur with no interest in the posed model, the artist makes paintings of ordinary life that pique imagination

Oaklash explodes with a full week of drag activism, film, parties, cute shows

'I want Oaklash to be the next Treasure Island Music Festival, the next Treasure Island Media,' says founder

More by this author

SF needs $19 billion to meet state affordable housing goals—and Breed has no plan

Mayor's Office has no clue where to find the money, and won't even spend the existing Prop. I windfall right now. It's 'unbelievable.'

Homeless numbers are declining—despite what the Breed Administration has done

Progressive initiatives, opposed by the mayor, seem to be working.

What if we let artists and homeless people take over all the empty SF office space?

The old work model is over, and downtown and the local economy is going to suffer—unless we get creative about the future.
Sponsored link
Sponsored link

You might also likeRELATED