Citing Security Concerns, 'Patriot Prayer' Cancels Crissy Field Rally [Updated]

Citing Security Concerns, 'Patriot Prayer' Cancels Crissy Field Rally [Updated]
Golden Gate Bridge at Crissy Field. | Photo: profernity/Flickr 
By Fiona Lee - Published on August 25, 2017.

Organizers have decided to cancel the controversial Patriot Prayer gathering at Crissy Field, originally scheduled for 2pm tomorrow. 

The decision was announced on Facebook Live and comes as the so-called "alt-right" group raises concern over security. "Tomorrow really seems like a setup," organizer Joey Gibson said. 

They also cited Mayor Ed Lee and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's strong opposition as an issue.

Instead, the group plans to hold a press conference at Alamo Square tomorrow at 2pm to discuss "some of the rhetoric" in San Francisco. 

However, the group does not have a permit for such an event.

While organizers said that they were hoping to ensure safety for attendees, they said today that they were concerned about anti-fascists (often called antifa) and white supremacists entering the rally. However, the group has attracted white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and other white supremacists at recent events in Portland and Seattle.

The group said it had expected attendees to be screened as they entered the park, but claimed that despite heavy security from the National Park Service and SFPD, that would not be the case. 

The move comes as more than 13 protests have been organized in the wake of the controversial gathering. 

However, Patriot Prayer rally organizers said although they respected San Francisco residents, the rhetoric of recent days had made it impossible for the rally to continue safely and allow them to practice their First Amendment rights. 

"It has been nothing but a smear campaign against us," said one organizer. 

Update, 5:14pm: Hoodline has reached out to several counterprotest organizers to see if plans have changed in the wake of Patriot Prayer's cancellation and planned move.

Many have not determined what their plans would be now that the group is moving to Alamo Square, especially as the area is much closer to large counterprotest events at Civic Center. However, it is unclear at this time that Patriot Prayer will receive a permit for an Alamo Square event.

"We might need people in both places," wrote the organizers for Flowers Against Fascism, which was meant to take place at Crissy Field.

However, other groups were continuing as planned. "We're on," confirmed Renee McKenna, an organizer for an Ocean Beach counterprotest event

She said that no matter where the Patriot Prayer event went, they would be "met with this wall of tolerance against the hate and racism that people want to spew."

"As we’ve seen in Boston and in other places, the groundswell and support for what are real American values—tolerance, inclusion, respect and support for diversity—is so large and so heartening, it’s positive and affirming for all of us," she said.

Update, 8:34pm: The NPS has confirmed that Gibson has relinquished the permit for the Crissy Field event, and the area will be re-opened to the public. 

In light of the cancellation, officials are also lifting road closures in the area, and Crissy Field businesses will be allowed to open.

However, park-operated visitor facilities, including the Presidio Visitor Center and Fort Point National Historic Site, will remain closed.

Update, 8:53pm: Concerned over neighborhood safety, the Alamo Square Neighborhood Association has confirmed that it is working with Northern Station and Sup. London Breed's office to plan for every contingency.

"They're not 100 percent sure if [Patriot Prayer] is going to follow up with the gathering at the park," said ASNA board member Jason Jervis. "We're working with police to make sure that nothing like Charlottesville happens in our park."

In a statement posted on its Facebook page, the association noted that the popular area, best known for its Victorian homes, is a historically African-American neighborhood.

"Our neighborhood represents the colorful social fabric for which San Francisco is well-known," ASNA writes. "Patriot’s [sic] Prayer and groups who promote hatred and division have neither our support nor our approval to hold their 'press conference' or any such gathering in the park."

Update, 9:18pm: Riders can now expect service to the Marina tomorrow. Previously, SFMTA had cancelled service to the Marina in anticipation of the Crissy Field rally. 

Update, 9:38pm: At least one local business in Alamo Square is closing in anticipation of the event tomorrow.

Update, 8/26, 10:28am: