Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Love vs. Hate Rally in Civic Center

The rally against white supremacists at San Francisco Civic Center was unexpectedly sweet on Saturday afternoon.

The original plan for many was to go to Crissy Field in the Presidio to confront the small, Northwest-based Patriot Prayer Rally and their white supremacist supporters.

On Friday evening, the Patriot Prayer instigators canceled their Crissy Field rally, claiming it was too dangerous, even though the city of San Francisco had spent tens of thousands of dollars on fencing and extra staff to ensure that they were indeed safe.

Patriot Prayer, which disingenuously claims to have nothing to do with white supremacists even though that is who shows up at their rallies, then announced there would be a press conference in Alamo Square at 2PM on Saturday. The small city park in the Western Addition hadn't been secured by anyone, so city authorities immediately erected fencing Saturday morning so nobody could enter.

The rally organizers ended up having a press conference in Pacifica, of all places, leaving the city of San Francisco to its many peaceful protests around town.

A large contingent met at Alamo Square Park and then made their way to the Mission District neighborhood, while another large group gathered in the Castro District neighborhood in preparation for a march down Market Street to join the rally in Civic Center.

Everyone needed to blow off steam after the horror of the violent white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville the week before...

...followed by the grotesque remarks from our lunatic, fascist president.

In all the demonstrations I have attended over the decades, the most dangerous people are invariably the police who can hurt and/or kill you with impunity. Part of the charm of the Civic Center rally on Saturday was the subdued police presence, with the bulk of the work being carried out by traffic control officers from the SFMTA who were pleasant, conversational and seemingly enjoying the overtime.

Children and bubbles also helped to keep the mood cheerful and mellow, as did the first sunny, fog-free San Francisco summer day in weeks.

The rally began at noon, and around 3 PM the Castro District marchers arrived en masse and were slowly funneled into Civic Center.

Even the gay gym rats showed up, which is a rarity at this kind of event.

The young man above had just moved from Phoenix and this was the first political demonstration of his life, which had him grinning from ear to ear. "Congratulations on your escape," I told him, "and welcome to San Francisco."


Rachel said...

Lovely photos and prose as always, Michael!

Civic Center said...

Thanks, Rachel. It was sweet, sunny and fun.

Rachel said...

Sounds like the best kind of protest/rally/march to me!

Hattie said...

Pacifica? (-:

janinsanfran said...

Hadn't heard of the detour to Pacifica. I know folks there who would have been eager to run the hate group off, but presumably they never expected a visit.