SF leaders await decision from NPS over permit for right-wing Crissy Field rally

Lyanne Melendez Image
Wednesday, August 23, 2017
SF leaders await decision from NPS over permit for right-wing Crissy Field rally
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee continued to push back against a right-wing 'Patriot Prayer' rally planned at Crissy Field for this Saturday.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee continued to push back against a right-wing "Patriot Prayer" rally planned at Crissy Field for this Saturday.

Mayor Lee along with San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott have been in communication with the National Park Service all week, and are encouraging NPS to reevaluate, or reject the rally permit.

Lee says "people are coming in here to threaten violence," and "the latest group that has indicated online and other places that they're going to come is this Oath group, that is known to carry arms in a very public way." The Mayor is referring to Oath Keepers, a national militia group known for being heavily armed.

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The service has approved, but not actually issued the permit, saying in a written statement on Wednesday that they will make a final determination by the end of next week "based on the thorough public safety review."

Joe Gibson who leads the organization Patriot Prayer told his Facebook followers: "Good news! Police have a robust plan to ship rally attendees from a parking lot to Crissy Field and back."

San Francisco's mayor Ed Lee says he believes the permit will be issued and law enforcement will be ready for any violence, so much so that the coast guard has been alerted. In the application filled out by Gibson, even he checked the box "yes" when asked if there is any reason to believe there will be attempts to disrupt, protest or prevent your event.

One major concern among Bay Area residents is that the demonstrators will show up armed with guns. In 2010, Congress enacted a law that allows people to carry loaded guns in National Parks. However, that law does not apply in California, since state law does not allow open-carry.

Click here to view the document for permit application.

"There are points of entry to Crissy Field that today are totally unguarded and very open," he said.

"If it's an unsafe event, definitely we can shut it down. If it's not, we can facilitate first amendment activity," says Chief Bill Scott. He says those with an appropriate concealed-carry permit can have a gun in accordance with California law.

However, Scott also says he's working with the Park Service to create a safe demonstration if they do in fact issue the rally permit. "There are conditions that can be placed in a permit to prohibit weapons within the permitted space."

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"In California alone, since December 2015, we've had 2 dozen violent public political demonstrations," says Professor Brian Levin, Director of the Center of Hate and Extremism at Cal State University San Bernardino who adds "not all of them have been white nationalists, not all of them have been Antifa, but many of them have been."

Professor Levin says police departments and cities should work to create laws against tools of violence.

"No masks, no sticks. Anti-masking ordinances and laws are very important so we can identify people who feel emboldened by their anonymity." He also recommends that police try and keep opposing sides at protests separate.

The mayor's office and religious and community activists are promoting an event called United Against Hate this Friday at Civic Center Plaza.

Other community leaders are also promoting their own events. Activist Cleve Jones is planning one in the Castro district.

If approved, the Patriot Prayer rally will begin at 2 p.m. and goes through 5 p.m.

Meanwhile, come counter demonstrations are planned as follows. Check their individual websites for updates:

"LovedUp" Mobile Dance Counter Rally - Sat. 8/26 at Civic Center. 1- 5 p.m.

San Francisco Peacefully Unites Against White Nationalists - Sat. 8/26 at Civic Center. 2-5 p.m.

Come Together - Juanita More's Official Art Event For Equality - Sat. 8/26 at Harvey Milk Plaza in Castro, 12 noon to 2 p.m.

Resist Counter Protest - Sat. 8/26 at Crissy Field at 1 p.m.

Flowers against Facism - Sat. 8/26 at Crissy Field at 1 p.m.

Bay Resistance Brigade Paddle Out - Sat. 8/26 at 1 p.m. off of Crissy Field

Calling All Clowns - Sat. 8/26 at 2 p.m. at Crissy Field

Post-Rally Eliminate the Hate: Trash Removal/Community Gathering - Sat. 8/26 at 5:30 pm at Crissy Field.

There are also counter protests planned in the East Bay over the weekend:

Bay Area Rally Against Hate - Sun. 8/27 at Crescent Lawn at UC Berkeley. 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Empathy Pop Up - Sat. 8/26 through Sun. 8/27 at Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park in Berkeley. sat. 10 p.m. to Sun. 5 p.m.

Resist Racist Violence & Hate in Berkeley - Sun. 8/27 at Ohlone Park in Berkeley. 11 a.m. to 12 noon.