San Francisco to Counter Patriot Prayer Rally by Eating Cake, Dancing and Leaving 'Dog Poop' at Crissy Field
Call it uniquely "San Francisco," but the City by the Bay has its own ideas for counter protests
The National Park Service on Wednesday granted a permit for a hotly-debated rally at Crissy Field this weekend.
Right-wing group, Patriot Prayer, last week applied for a permit to host "Freedom Rally San Francisco" on Saturday.
Despite criticism from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Superintendent London Breed, the National Park Service said, "We cannot deny a permit to anyone planning to exercise their First Amendment rights based on their political stance or beliefs."
Wary of whether the rally will draw white nationalists and invite violence, San Franciscans have made it known that racism and hatred are unwelcome in their hometown.
And the City by the Bay isn't stopping there. Residents have begun organizing counter-protests with unusual themes.
Up first is "Leave your dog poop on Crissy Field" from 12 p.m. Aug. 25 through 10 a.m. Aug. 26.
Organizers wrote on Facebook that the idea behind the event is to "leave a gift for our Alt-Right friends."
They continued: "Take your dog to Crissy Field and let them do their business and be sure not to clean it up! Watch out for landmines, friends! We can get together Sunday and clean up the mess and hug each other!"
San Francisco artist Tuffy Tuffington, who has two dogs, came up with the curious way to protest the Crissy Field rally, without needing direct conflict.
"I was walking around and had this idea of people marching around in fields of poop," Tuffington said. "I thought that would be a nice form of civil disobedience and a way to not actually be there when they’re there."
He didn't know it would generate the interest it has, but is committed to making a stink — both literally and figuratively. So far, 525 people have demonstrated interest in this gathering, which has piqued the interest of nearly 3,000 more.
"I really intended for it to be a joke for my friends and I didn’t realize I made it public," Tuffington said. "A few hours later, there was 500 people interested."
Other counter-protesters, in true San Francisco style, are encouraging people to dance as "an alternative to hate, confrontation and aggression."
The "SF LovedUp Mobile Dance Counter-Rally" will last from 1 to 5 p.m. Aug. 26 at Marina Green Park. Attendees will not interrupt the white supremacist rally, but will dress in their "amazing colorful fabulous best" and "groove to cheesy, party pop dance athems," organizers wrote on Facebook.
More than 1,000 people have said they will be at the event and nearly 6,000 more are interested.
Meanwhile, Stop the Violence, Galeria de la Raza, Queer Nation-San Francisco, Castro Community on Patrol, Unafraid, and a slew of other community organizations have teamed up with the Rev. Dr. Megan Rohrer for what is described on Facebook as "San Francisco Peacefully Unites Against White Nationalists."
Organizers have issued a special invite to "all drag performers and sparkly freaks" to counter "violent behaviors" from 12 to 5 p.m. Aug. 26.
They wrote: "Believing hate groups are coming to San Francisco to bait folk into helping them recruit others to their cause and to instigate violent behaviors so lawsuits can fund their hate work, we are uniting with diverse advocates and leaders around San Francisco who are urging safety, peace, and events that will help preserve the fragile diversity of Crissy Field."
However, this peaceful gathering will not occur at Crissy Field. It will be held at Civic Center, and roughy 2,300 people have signed up to attend and another 6,200 have expressed interest.
Supporters are also encouraged to attend a march for equality called "Come Together" at Harvey Milk Plaza between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.
As Saturday's controversial rally nears, a growing number of unique protests are coming out of the woodwork.
"Sheetcake Picnic - Protest Alternative" invites people to Hellman Hollow at Golden Gate Park to — you guessed it — eat cake between 2 and 5 p.m. Saturday.
"I'm a left handed, Jewish homosexual. I don't always love labels, but I do love myself. And in these times of tension, that's something to celebrate," the event's organizer, Simon Betsadel, wrote on Facebook.
Instead of adding to hateful rhetoric at Crissy Field, Betsadel has invited people to lay on blankets, listen to music, and enjoy food and each others' presence.
By way of extravagence, "sparkles and eye makeup" are suggested, but attendees are free to "just do whatever gives you joy," he wrote.
Betsadel urged: "Let's think about everything we have that makes us diverse, fabulous, and totally unique."
At the same time, Resistence SF is hosting "Calling All Clowns: Fascism is no laughing matter" from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Crissy Field Beach.
The gathering is a call to action for "anti-racist, anti-fascist clowns" to "mercilessly ridicule any neo-nazis, white supremacists, or alt right trolls who dare show their face in San Francisco," according to its Facebook page.
The group's Facebook page also advertises an event simply called "Resist SF" between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. at Crissy Field Beach.
Organizers wrote: "Racism is evil. It must be eradicated from the face of the earth. We will not let facist, racist, morally bankrupt degenerates invade our beautiful city and spew hate. The time for passive tolerance is over. It's time to stand our ground. Its time to stand up."
Stressing the importance of relaying to protesters that there is no room for bigotry and hate in San Franciso, Resist SF cautioned: "We are not advocating violence or physical conflicts. We are advocating (participants) -- young, old, brave, bold; show up in force, create signs and disrupt the agenda of the unwelcomed hate groups.
"One voice. One people. One love. United we will stand."
It appears that San Franciscans also refuse to rob children of the opportunity to stand up for their home.
"The Cutest Lil Counter Protest" is billed as a peaceful, family-friendly protest.
The goal is to "smother hate with as much love and cuteness as possible," starting at 11 a.m. at the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers, according to Facebook.
A so-called "Cuties Parade" will start at 11:30 a.m. and end with a group photo in front of the de Young Summer of Love wall. Donations for the Southern Poverty Law Center will also be accepted.
An organization called Brown Lives Matter is hosting an "Anti-Racist Rally," which will start at 490 Marina Boulevard at 9 a.m. Saturday.
The effort has picked up the attention of more than 300 people and aims to directly oppose Patriot Prayer's protest at Crissy Field.
The Human Rights Commission has also spent days brainstorming on non-violent responses to the controversial free speech rally. To that end, the organization is setting up Help Against Hate stations across San Francisco and holding a peace festival, empowerment conference, community conversations and more.