San Francisco Bay Area residents essentially ran off some white supremacists last weekend in major marches and counter protests in San Francisco and Berkeley.
Thousands of people protesting an event organized by Patriot Prayer, an Oregon group with ties to white supremacists, marched through the San Francisco streets Saturday to the Civic Center Plaza where even more people had gathered. The leader of Patriot Prayer had earlier canceled the alt-right event at Crissy Field in the Golden Gate Recreational Area, but that didn’t stop counter protestors from showing up there and elsewhere.
In Berkeley, according to media reports, some 4,000 protestors surrounded a tiny band of alt-right people in the Martin Luther King Civic Center Park on Sunday. There was some scuffling and fighting between the two groups, which was described here and here. There were 14 arrests and some injuries. The organizer of that event had been denied a permit and had urged her supporters to stay away from the park.
The response here came in the aftermath of the death of Heather Heyer, who was killed by a white supremacist and neo-Nazi in Charlottesville, Va. while she protested against Trump’s racist agenda. In Boston recently, thousands poured onto the streets to protest a hate rally, which then had to be shut down. Now it has happened in San Francisco.
I marched with a diverse group that met in the Castro District and then made its way to the Civic Center Plaza. Above all else, this was a peaceful group of people, which included families with small children. Anyone suggesting there is an equivalence between those marching against hate and those who promote Nazism is simply lying, much like Donald Trump, the leader they so adore.
In addition, the equivalence by the media between the antifa, or anti-fasicts, and neo-Nazis is grossly overstated. I saw only two people dressed with scarves partially covering their faces in the Castro as they applauded speakers promoting peace and inclusion. What I didn’t see were people holding torches and chanting Nazi slogans. I realize there were more antifa people in Berkeley on Sunday, but the bottom line is the alt-right is provoking the violence with taunts and hate speech. The alt-right and Trump are responsible.
Did any antifa people in Berkeley drive a car through the racists and kill and maim people Sunday like the neo-Nazi did in Charlottesville? Did any antifa people hold Nazi flags? The mainstream media is, again, making false comparisons. The hate is on the side of the right-wing extremists. Their qualifications for their presence and hateful positions are absurd. Why don’t mainstream media journalists understand this?
Trump, of course, has emboldened white supremacists to crawl out of their immoral, craven caves and celebrate their skin color as a superior trait. Their lying leader has sent them coded messages this summer about how “many sides” and “both sides” were responsible for the violence in Charlottesville, which isn’t true.
What seems clear now is that the white supremacists are a small group of people trying to provoke violence and spread hatred. They will always be vastly outnumbered in major metropolitan areas, especially the country’s largest and most diverse cities. The proper response is to show up and protest their hate peacefully in the tradition of Martin Luther King.
Despite the violence in Berkeley, it was love that won out in the end in an area known as a forerunner in diversity and inclusion. There’s no room for hate speech and racism here.