The force behind this weekend’s “No to Marxism in America” rally in Berkeley – an event that has drawn the attention of police, activists and U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee – is a transgender “patriot” who says she has a beef with radical, violent leftists who self-describe as “antifa.”
Amber Gwen Cummings, who is making headlines because of her Sunday rally at Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park, held court with reporters and activists on Tuesday, arguing that she is not a white supremacist and that violence and the KKK are not welcome at her event. Cummings did not want to state where she lived, but documentation denying her permit to hold the rally shows that she listed an Antioch address.
“It’s a free speech rally,” she told the crowd, describing her rally, where she expects about 300 people to attend. “Marxism is being taught at UC Berkeley and anti-American thought. I’m not safe to walk down road with American flag.”
Her issue, she said, is not with people of color or minorities and her rally is not “right wing.”
She said she planned anti-Marxist rally in June, long before the Aug. 12 rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which turned deadly and sparked a state of emergency because of the violence between neo Nazi supporters and counter protesters. Cummings insisted her rally would not be like that. On her Facebook page, she said one of the speakers would be Michael Johns, a founding member of the Tea Party, but that white supremacists Richard Spencer and Nathan Doming were not invited. “False rumors people,” she wrote.
Cummings said that she’s upset she wasn’t granted a permit to officially hold the rally in the park because she can more easily turn away hate groups if she had the paperwork.
And then she said, trying to prove her point that she is not a member of the alt-right or a white supremacist: “Show me any white supremacist group that accepts a transgender…Neo Nazis would not stand with someone like me.”
While Cummings said that “this will not be a white supremacist rally” and “no violence will be tolerated,” Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin, State Sen. Nancy Skinner, Lee and other politicians held a news conference Tuesday urging people to stay away from a rally they described as “alt right.”
“The alt-right groups need others to dignify their presence,” Skinner said. “If we stay away from their direct action, then we provide them no one to be violent against and we do not honor their very presence.”
Instead, the politicians asked for people to attend counter protests, including one led by Unite for Freedom from Right Wing Violence in the Bay Area, who have called for a “Bay Area Rally Against Hate” on UC Berkeley’s Crescent Lawn at Oxford and Center streets on Sunday morning.
“President Trump has emboldened white nationalists but we must hold steadfast to our progressive values as a community, regardless of the challenges,” Lee said at the conference. “We cannot allow anyone, certainly not the president, to roll back the clock on progress. We must stand united against hate.”
Outside on the sidewalk after the conference, Cummings tried to defend herself, especially from an African-American man who continually asked her in a heated voice: “Area you promoting hate speech?”
He and others then demanded she take off her glasses and her bandana covering her face. She said she was mimicking the radical anti-fascists or members of the “Black Bloc” who often join the alt-right rallies, and start their own violence and are behind much of the vandalism in cities where they visit and protest.
However, Cummings complied happily with the request, briefly taking down her mask, showing her face to prove she wasn’t hiding.
Cummings said she was one of the many “patriots” on the front lines during the "Battle of Berkeley" on April 15.
John Beavers, a Donald Trump supporter who lives in Washington state, met Cummings at that “patriot” rally.
“Amber’s a very nice lady,” Beavers told KTVU. “Amber’s not full of hate. She’s an individual who doesn’t follow anybody.”
Beavers, who said he got his nose punched during the Berkeley rally in April, said he is not a white nationalist and still considers himself a “patriot” even though he’s stopped going to rallies.
“There’s hate on both sides,” he said.
Cummings declined to be further interviewed, other than to explain herself in private Facebook message. She declined to answer other basic questions like if she worked, how old she is and where she grew up.
But she did write: “What motivated me to become a patriot was simple. My goal is to speak about the growing violence against free speech in America by a group of violent thugs that go by the name of antifa and BAMN [By Any Means Necessary] that support Marxist ideology in this country is going in the wrong direction and felt I needed to speak out about some of the wrongs in it. We need to come together as Americans and unify. I think we all want basically the same things and that is a place we all can live and live peacefully and with freedom."