SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - Most people have not heard of the group Patriot Prayer until recently. The group claims to be for those who believe in free speech, love, freedom and truth. But from San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and other local politicians, there has been strong condemnation for the group's planned rally for Crissy Field this Saturday, August 26 in San Francisco.
KTVU spoke with the Patriot Prayer rally's organizer Joey Gibson on Wednesday ahead of the event. Gibson says he's being unfairly portrayed by politicians as a white supremacist and that that's also not the demographic his group is trying to cater to.
Gibson says he's absolutely not a white supremacist. "I'm Japanese. We have three black speakers, a couple Hispanic, an atheist, a transsexual. We're extremely diverse. It's really irresponsible for the leaders to call me a white supremacist. It's completely unfounded."
He referred to Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi labeling him as such for publicity. Gibson added that Identity Evropa, a group identified by Southern Poverty Law Center as white nationalist has been kicked out of their events in the past. The group is just one of the 917 hate groups being tracked by SPLC. Patriot Prayer is not.
Gibson, who said he is not religious (although towards the end of his interview he says he's motivated by god and Jesus) and that he doesn't plan on forcing religion on anyone, says that what he preaches has nothing to do with skin color and is about what's "on the inside".
"Obviously we have extremists who try to show up," Gibson said when he denied Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazi's, white nationalists and white supremacists would be welcome at the rally.
"There's a lot of liberals who peacefully protest all the time and it's awesome, and then you have these anarchists or Antifa who show up and hijack their message and commit violence and burn things down. Those anarchists don't represent the liberals that are peacefully marching down the street.
Gibson added that there are too many people that think people with different ideological backgrounds are their enemy. "The biggest problem we have right now is a lack of respect."
He said he wouldn't be preaching a conservative message and that in fact, many conservatives don't even like his message. For the record, Gibson told us he's pro-gay rights, against the Patriot Act and against the War on Drugs. "I don't like endless wars."
"You can't put me in a box. You can't say I'm a conservative. You can't say I'm a progressive."
Critics say Gibson presents himself one way and pulls the bait and switch at his rallies and what he promotes is much different. To that he responded, "show me the evidence."
Mayor Ed Lee has repeatedly encouraged the public to avoid the rally and says the group uses the guise of patriotism and religion in their name, but actually promotes violence, hatred and want to incite violence.
Lee stated this as fact and said he's been monitoring how Patriot Prayer acts in other cities.
Gibson said Lee and other politicians were not specific enough in their condemnation and could not cite examples of what it is they're talking about. He asked for Pelosi and Lee to speak out against Antifa.
For a list of speakers and more information on the Freedom Rally click here.