Officials cite free speech as reason for granting permit for Crissy Field rally

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The controversial rally opposed by San Francisco City Hall will be allowed to take place at Crissy Field Saturday. After much back and forth, the National Park Service issued a permit Wednesday to the extremist group, Patriot Prayer, but with a series of conditions.

FULL LIST: Counter demonstrations planned for San Francisco, Berkeley rallies

The reason for issuing the permit to the group was brief, but to the point: The National Park Service cannot deny a permit to anyone planning to exercise their first amendment rights based on their political stance or beliefs.

"They are issuing this permit on their own authority," said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. "But we are responsible and feel responsible for everybody's public safety."

The permit comes with 26 conditions, among them -- no firearms, aerosols, ammunition, big backpacks, drones, explosives, helmets, mace, or pepper spray, selfie sticks, thermal or metal containers, or glass.

RELATED: Permit approved for right-wing rally at SF's Crissy Field

Those conditions apply only to the enclosed area where the rally will take place, not to the rest of the national park.

The setup will be similar to the one used by the Bernie Sanders campaign in 2016 during a rally also at Crissy Field.

San Francisco's chief of police, Bill Scott, said they will screen for weapons inside that secure area. "Just be assumed that at the secured area, there will be checkpoints."

Any counter groups who decide to attend the rally must also follow those same conditions.

The park service also said, "Law enforcement advised that issuing the permit will increase their ability to ensure public safety."

Mayor Lee dismissed that Wednesday. "By the way, it's on our dime in San Francisco so that's why I don't appreciate that logic being the lead logic, that is a false logic."

Instead, the city is asking people to attend peaceful rallies around the city on Friday and Saturday.

"We will not let this rally tear us apart," Lee said. "We will not let this rally destroy our city."

Click here for a look back at stories and videos from recent protests.
Copyright © 2022 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.