‘Patriot Prayer’ organizer says he’ll hold ‘pop up’ events in San Francisco — by Elizabeth Weise

USATODAY:  published 12:57 p.m. ET Aug. 26, 2017 | Updated 2:31 p.m. ET Aug. 26, 2017

San Franciscans gathered Friday to rally against hate, with civic leaders saying the city stands for love and diversity. The downtown event came as a right-wing group said it was cancelling a “freedom rally” set for San Francisco on Saturday. (Aug 25) AP

SAN FRANCISCO — After abruptly cancelling a controversial “Patriot Prayer” rally scheduled here for Saturday, the event’s coordinator now says he’ll hold a news conference inside and then “pop up” randomly around the city to talk with locals.

Joey Gibson posted on his Facebook page Saturday morning that he would hold “an indoor news conferance at 2 pm, then will pop up at random spots in the city to talk with any citizens of SF.”

To track where those would be, Gibson posted on Facebook that people should keep an eye on his page.

This is the third site Gibson’s Patriot Prayer group has named in less than 24 hours. Originally the rally was to be held at Chrissy Field near the Golden Gate bridge.

The city had called in all police officers to work Saturday in anticipation of possible violence. On Friday city and National Park Department staff blocked off much of Chrissy Field and planned a massive security effort to keep protesters and counter protesters from clashing. 

Then in a Facebook Live video with other event organizers Friday afternoon, Gibson said he had cancelled the planned event at Chissy Field because he was worried about the possibility of violence.

“We have a lot of respect for the citizens in San Francisco and at the end of the day we wanted people to be safe,” he said.

Later Gibson said that in lieu of the original rally he would instead hold an unauthorized news conference in the city’s iconic Alamo Square Saturday.

Early Saturday morning city workers erected a metal fence around Alamo Square park, barring all public access.

No permits were requested or issued for Alamo Square for the weekend, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said in a statement. The popular tourist attraction fronts onto a string of “painted lady” Victorian homes is sometimes called Postcard Row as it graces millions of postcards.

The San Francisco police department planned to maintain an enhanced presence at the park and in the surrounding neighborhoods and all are prepared for any contingencies and spontaneous events, Lee said.

Saturday morning Gibson announced the shift to an indoor news conference at an undisclosed location.

San Francisco police have been scrambling to keep up with the changes. The city had been bracing for as many as 12 counterprotest events. These ranged from a march from the Castro district led by drag queens to a flotilla of paddle boarders off the shore of Chrissy Field to a family-friendly protest at Golden Gate Park’s Hall of Flowers.

A separate “No to Marxism” in Berkeley scheduled for Sunday event was canceled by its organizer Friday, who urged on her Facebook page that no one attend.

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