'Extreme hypocrisy': Counter-protesters question why they weren't allowed to cross Golden Gate Bridge during pro-Trump rally

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Tuesday, September 1, 2020
Counter-protesters question why they weren't allowed to cross GGB during pro-Trump rally
A march across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge was organized Sunday by "Walk Away," a campaign to invite Democrats to leave their party and join the Republican Party.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A march across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge was organized Sunday by "Walk Away," a campaign to invite Democrats to leave their party and join the Republican Party.

WATCH: Demonstrators clash during Trump rally at Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

Conservatives and liberals faced off Sunday during a President Trump rally at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

"We're going around the country, doing these events all over the place, basically getting the message out that we are not going to allow the radical left in this country to take over America's streets, America's neighborhoods, we're not going to allow them to take over this country," said founder Brandon Straka.

Bay Area resident Izzi tells ABC7 News he heard about the march and decided to respond. "We organized a last minute counter protest," said Izzi.

Izzi asked that we not use his last name for his safety. He says the Golden Gate Bridge Patrol and CHP allowed members of Walk Away to cross the bridge, but not others.

"We were able to document the extreme hypocrisy in how police escorted and protected the White nationalists verses how they harassed and even prevented us from getting on the bridge," said Izzi.

Izzi said he was able to walk across the bridge because he arrived early.

"The Trump rally broke several guidelines of the permits, when we gathered on the bridge on August 21 was the Wall of Many to march on the bridge, we were told that the bridge is not giving permits right now because of COVID-19, and yet they say they gave the right wing rally supporters, Trump supporters permits for a group of 2-400 apparently. On top of that they told us because they're not giving permits on the 21, but that the group we were with was less than 50 people, they would let us on as long as we abided by the rules of carrying no signs larger than 3x2, no flags, no banners, nothing that could be blown away by the wind. They made those same announcements yesterday at the Trump rally and yet they allowed them to carry massive 12-foot signs, massive flags larger than me and I'm 6-foot-5. They were carrying all sorts of material that the police were making announcements they were not allowed to have, and yet they allowed them all on anyway so there was clearly hypocrisy all across the board both in how they enforce the regulations and how they discriminated based on appearance on the ground," Izzi continued.

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In an emailed statement to ABC7 News, a spokesperson with the Golden Gate Bridge District writes,

"During yesterday's event, there was a small group of non-permitted counter-protesters that assembled near the entrance to the bridge as event attendees began walking onto the bridge sidewalk. Due to concerns over the possibility of conflict between the two groups, we made the decision to temporarily restrict access to the east sidewalk between approximately 10:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. to keep the two groups physically separated. The small group of counter-protesters were allowed to remain in the bridge plaza and access the bridge's east sidewalk once the permitted event had cleared the area."

But some people documented instances of not being able to walk across the bridge even though they say they were not with the counter-protest.

In one video shared with ABC7 News you can hear, "You let them go, why can't we go?" An officer responds, "I believe you have underlying motives that you're not being forthright." A woman can be heard saying, "That's your belief and you're wrong."

"There was clearly racism in play," said Izzi.

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A Bay Area nurse who was at the bridge to promote COVID-19 best practices tells ABC7 News she saw it as well.

"Just like racialized medicine I definitely witnessed racialized law enforcement at the bridge yesterday," said nurse Abigail Ilagan.

Izzi says the anti-protesters were less than 50 people and therefore didn't need a permit, but the Golden Gate Bridge District says there is an exception that applied here - only one expressive activity is allowed in the same physical space at the same time. Citing, "Expressive Activity for which a permit has been issued by the district will take precedence over expressive activity for which a permit has not been issued."

The California Highway Patrol Golden Gate Division Special Response Team made a total of four arrests during the Walk Away Campaign demonstration that occurred on the Golden Gate Bridge last Sunday. These arrests occurred when 25 to 30 counter protesters clashed with the 300 pro Trump demonstrators who had obtained a permit to conduct a demonstration through the Golden Gate Bridge authority.

The following were cited and released for the following violations:

22-year-old from Tracy, California was cited for 242 PC - Battery

24-year-old from Tracy was cited for 148a1 PC - Obstructing

31-year-old from Alameda was cited for 242 PC - Battery

31-year-old from Oakland for 148a1 PC - Obstruction