Love Overcomes Hate in San Francisco

Though the organizer has a different story, I suspect the reason he cancelled the Patriot Prayer rally at Crissy Field in San Francisco on August 26 is that the police had established tight controls that would have greatly minimized the risk of violence, as has happened at other Patriot Prayer rallies in other cities.

The police offered to escort the speakers to the permitted rally, where they would have been surrounded by barricades and police. They could have proceeded, spoken to their small group of supporters, and gotten some press coverage. But wanting to provoke violence, they declined the opportunity to exercise their free speech rights there and tried to conduct a “press conference” in a more inflammatory setting, Alamo Square Park, without a permit. When the police prohibited that, they went to a nearby town, Pacifica, and conducted a tiny, largely ignored event of some sort.

Meanwhile, counter-protesters, who gathered in a number of locations throughout the city during the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, presented a powerful life-affirming message of “peace, love, and understanding.” Many of those protesters eventually converged in Civic Center Plaza, my destination.

While sitting on the grass, resting, waiting to video the large march coming from the Castro District, a KCBS radio reporter conducted a live interview with me, which I recorded. He was very pleased with my contribution. On YouTube, I posted a video of that interview (the audio sounds better on a phone or tablet than it does on a full sound system), as well as a video of the pre-rally and the march as it arrived. All in all, a wonderful day and a good example of the preferred method of  “Countering Violent Anarchists,” as I argued in that post.

Indivisible SF instructed their members not to criticize violence-prone demonstrators when questioned by the media. But after interviewing folks at the “Interfaith Gathering Against Hate,” most of whom affirmed such criticism, as I reported in that piece, I took a different approach. I told KCBS, “I want to promote nonviolence over against violence, whether initiated by the right or the left.”

That formulation leaves open the question of violence that is truly defensive, but it rejects preventive violence that aims to “nip in the bud” fascism before it flowers — if only because such violence is counterproductive.

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