House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday called on the National Park Service to reconsider allowing a right-wing rally to go ahead later this month at San Francisco’s Crissy Field, arguing that the event poses a threat to public safety.
The National Park Service has issued a permit for the Aug. 26 rally by the right-wing group “Patriot Prayer.”
The event is one of two scheduled in the Bay Area that weekend, with a second rally by a different group scheduled in Berkeley on Aug. 27, and follows a violent right-wing rally last weekend in Charlottesville, Va., in which a man allegedly drove a car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one woman and injuring 19 other people.
A park service spokesperson on Monday said the agency is generally required by law to grant all First Amendment permits, and is currently working with U.S. Park Police and San Francisco law enforcement to develop plans for security at the event.
However, Pelosi, D-San Francisco, said Tuesday that the event raised “grave and ongoing concerns about public safety.”
“I am deeply alarmed by the hateful and dangerous nature of the event, its timing so soon after the horrors in Charlottesville, and the serious questions over whether the National Park Service is at all equipped to ensure public safety during a white supremacist rally,” Pelosi said.
“The NPS should reevaluate its decision and its capacity to protect the public during such a toxic rally,” she said. “Free speech does not grant the right to yell fire in a crowded theater, incite violence or endanger the public in any venue.”
Patriot Prayer, which has been described as an “alt-right” group by the hate group watchdog 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 the Charlottesville rally.
The Seattle event was greeted by a loud and angry group of counter-protesters, a tense atmosphere and a heavy police presence, according to published reports. Police deployed pepper spray and worked to keep the two groups separate and the day ended without major violence.
Counter-protests are expected at both the Aug. 26 and 27 events in the Bay Area.
San Francisco city officials planned to hold a media briefing Tuesday afternoon to discuss their concerns over the Aug. 26 event.
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