VIDEO: Patriot Prayer group cancels San Francisco rally

Screenshot of Patriot Prayer Facebook live (@PatriotPrayerUSA)

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — The Patriot Prayer group has canceled the rally that was planned for Saturday at San Francisco’s Crissy Field.

Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson along with other group members announced that the event was canceled on the group’s Facebook page less than 24 hours before the event was scheduled to take place.

The group says they canceled the event out of safety concerns.

“We don’t want to fight tomorrow,” said a member of the panel during the Facebook live announcement. “After several conversations with the police…we decided that tomorrow really seems like a setup. It doesn’t seem safe. A lot of people’s lives are going to be in danger tomorrow.”

The group also blamed “violence” being brought on by politicians and said everything that’s been said is “nothing but a smear campaign against us.”

“This decision was not an easy decision, we’ve been talking about it for days. But in the best interest of everyone who is going to be attending, we had to do this. It’s a public safety issue.”

The panel said they still will try to hold a press conference tomorrow at 2 p.m. at Alamo Square. They asked city leaders to allow them to have the conference and to protect them against anyone “who wants to be violent.”

During the press conference, they will “tell the story of what’s happening here.”

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee tweeted that the group has not requested any permits for Alamo Square.

Senator Wiener released a statement following the announcement saying that he does not want the Alamo Square news conference to happen:

“Today the right-wing extremist group Patriot Prayer – with a history of violent rallies – showed its true colors by canceling, at the last minute, its permitted rally at Crissy Field and scheduling an illegal unpermitted rally at Alamo Square. They did this after the National Park Service correctly placed significant security conditions on the permit, including not carrying anything that could be used as a weapon. Patriot Prayer is not interested in simply exercising free speech. Rather, Patriot Prayer wants to create a volatile, chaotic, violent tinderbox. This rally in Alamo Square is illegal and in the heart of a residential neighborhood, and I am deeply concerned it will lead to violence, particularly given how close Alamo Square is to the counter-protest at Civic Center. As a matter of public safety, it cannot be allowed to happen.”

Gibson says the Berkeley “No to Marxism in America” is still happening and that they will “put our resources into Berkeley.”

He said the difference with Berkeley is that he doesn’t feel like they’re “walking into a trap.”

City officials denied a permit for the Berkeley rally, however, demonstrators are still expected to show up on Sunday at Civic Center Park.

San Francisco’s Mayor Ed Lee and other Democratic leaders strongly opposed the rally. Federal officials still granted the group a permit despite safety concerns.

Patriot Prayer says the rally was scheduled in support of free speech and that hate groups aren’t welcome.

Nonetheless, extremist groups have attended previous Patriot Prayer events.

Lee issued the following statement Friday night:

“We are monitoring ongoing developments related to the August 26 rally, and we are prepared for any contingencies and spontaneous events. No permits have been requested or issued for Alamo Square this weekend, nor has the permit issued through the Golden Gate National Recreation Area been withdrawn.

Throughout the course of this week, we have made it clear that the public safety of San Francisco residents and visitors is our top priority. Our full contingent of public safety professionals is ready to protect our San Francisco neighborhoods.

Today, we showed the world what peace and unity looks like. We stood together and stated resoundingly that San Francisco is a city of love and compassion. We know our message was heard.”

Lee issued another statement later Friday night.

“The Golden Gate National Recreation Area has confirmed that the Patriot Prayer group has relinquished the permit for a rally at Crissy Field on Saturday at 2 p.m.

Public safety is always our top priority. The San Francisco Police Department and our City’s public safety agencies are prepared for any contingencies and spontaneous events. San Francisco does not welcome outside agitators whose messages of hate have the sole purpose of inciting violence.

No permits have been requested or issued for Alamo Square this weekend. SFPD will have an enhanced presence at Alamo Square and in the surrounding neighborhoods. I want to reinforce that existing San Francisco law prohibits firearms and weapons in city parks. Those who seek to commit acts of violence or damage property will be arrested and prosecuted.

We continue to encourage residents to attend peaceful gatherings and not engage with those who seek to disrupt our communities. Today, we showed the world what peace and unity looks like. We stood together and stated resoundingly that San Francisco is a city of love and compassion and does not tolerate hate.”

And here is a statement from the National Park Service as Patriot Prayer relinquished the permit:

On Friday evening, Joey Gibson of Patriot Prayer confirmed that he has relinquished the First Amendment permit for his organization’s planned event at Crissy Field on Saturday, August 26.

After considering the implications of this announcement in coordination with law enforcement, the planned closures will be lifted in the Presidio for Saturday.

• There will be no road closures.
• Businesses at Crissy Field and on the Main Post are authorized to reopen.

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

”Crissy Field will be open for public use on Saturday,” said Cicely Muldoon, Acting General Superintendent of Golden Gate National Recreation Area. “We thank the community for your patience over the last week and your continued support of the Presidio.”

The National Park Service and United States Park Police had worked with regional law enforcement agencies to develop a robust plan for public safety before, during, and after the planned Crissy Field event. We now stand ready to support the San Francisco Police Department if needed.

Stay with KRON4 News for updates

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