Right-wing rallies planned in SF, Berkeley later this month

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN/KTVU)-- In the wake of the weekend's violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, San Francisco officials are preparing for a planned right-wing rally and possible counter protest at Crissy Field later this month.

The right-wing, pro-Trump group Patriot Prayer has been granted a permit for a rally on  Aug. 26 from 2 to 5 p.m., according to National Park Service spokeswoman Sonja Hanson.

"By law we have to grant First Amendment permits," Hanson said.

The pro-Trump group Patriot Prayer, which has been described as an "alt-right" group by hate group watchdog the Southern Poverty Law Center, has dubbed its event "Free Speech, Unity and Peace San Francisco."

The group, organized by Joey Gibson, also held an event in Seattle on Sunday, only a day after a rally by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia ended with a man allegedly driving a car into a crowd of
counter-protesters, killing one woman and sending dozens of others to the hospital.

Gibson has disavowed that attack in public statements.

Counter-protests are expected at the event, and Hanson said National Park Service Officials and U.S. Park police are working with city police and fire officials to develop plans to maintain security.

"The park enforces a peaceful and safe First Amendment event, so if that changes it will be canceled and everyone turned away," Hanson said.

Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi has asked the National Park Service to reconsider the permit to ensure public safety. 

“Perhaps those making the decision did not know that Crissy Field is a place where families gather, where tourists visit, and the community comes together.  Free speech does not grant the right to yell fire in a crowded theater, incite violence or endanger the public in any venue," Pelosi said in a statement. 

San Francisco police said security plans for the event are "still in the planning stages," but confirmed they would be taking the recent events in Charlottesville into account.

"We always have to look at these things, whether they be local or national or foreign," Officer Robert Rueca said.

A separate right-wing event, titled "No to Marxism in America," is also planned to take place in Berkeley's Martin Luther King, Jr. Civic Center Park on Aug. 27 from 1 to 5 p.m. That event's host is listed as Amber Cummings. Berkeley police Sgt. Andrew Frankel told KTVU on Tuesday that this group has not yet filed for a permit. He also said that he is "painfully aware" of what's been happening on the national and global stage, and would do everything he could to keep the people of Berkeley safe while also allowing people to express their First Amendment rights.

A counter-protest for that event, "Bay Area Rally Against Hate," is scheduled to take place at University of California at Berkeley from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.

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