Liberals declare victory over Patriot Prayer group


Mona Murhamer

Peaceful protesters stand in line to buy food from a food truck at the rally. One man holds a “Here For Heather Heyer” sign.

Mona Murhamer, Staff Writer

Music, face paint, food trucks, Philz Coffee; people dressed in “Black Lives Matter” apparel, people dressed in colorful skirts and dresses, people dressed in nothing at all.

They are all gathered to support the same cause, despite there being no cause.

On Saturday, Aug. 26, peaceful protesters gathered in San Francisco to counter-protest an alleged white supremacist rally organized by a group by the name of Patriot Prayer, an Oregon-based conservative group led by Washington native Joey Gibson.

However, the original rally, set at San Francisco’s Crissy Field, was canceled in the days leading up to the event.

Some believed the group canceled their protest because they were denied the right to bear arms, among other reasons.

“They didn’t get to organize the way they wanted to. They had a full police escort and a permit, but they still didn’t have some of their more extreme individuals doing security for them,” said San Francisco resident Dale Smith, 26.

Regardless, thousands redirected their efforts towards supporting the counter-protest.

“I’m here because there were some concerns of violent protests as seen in Charlottesville. Originally, I was planning on going to Crissy Field, but that was canceled so I came here [Civic Center],” said San Francisco resident Jennifer Gaynor, 40.

For attendees of the counter-protest, the goal of the day was to show white supremacists that they were not welcome in the Bay Area.

“There was no violence in San Francisco today because of the massive amount of [peaceful] people and the cowardice of the alt-right when they weren’t allowed to bring weapons to the Presidio. It makes me feel proud, but it doesn’t surprise me. This is what San Francisco and California are about,” said Gaynor.

However, counter-protesters seemed to have been aiming their cause in the wrong direction.

According to the Patriot Prayer manager and rally organizer Joey Gibson, the alleged white supremacist group is not a white supremacist group at all.


Joey Gibson

“What is Patriot Prayer? Is it a white supremacist group? Is it a white nationalist group? Is it a racist group? No, it is not. Absolutely not. I am not white. I am a person of color, so I don’t believe in white supremacy,” Gibson said in a video posted on Facebook.

In fact, Gibson said the group’s cause was focused on unity.

“What I’m trying to do is I’m trying to bring people together who believe in freedom, who believe in love, who believe in peace, and believe in free speech. I’m trying to bring people together under the basic things that unite us. It is freedom, it is love, it is peace,” he said.

Despite Patriot Prayer’s real message, many protesters at the Civic Center still felt strongly about standing up against what they believed to be a white supremacist cause.

“We don’t want [white supremacists] here. California doesn’t want them here. If you live in California, please keep it to yourself because we don’t want to know. Have enough self-respect for yourself,” said Sacramento resident Yvette Briggs, 50.

Many protesters openly denounced the Trump Administration as a stimulant in the rise of hate groups, such as neo-Nazis and white nationalists.

“The cause is inherently a part of the ideology that the United States is built on. The Obama Administration saw a rise in far-right hate groups, and the Trump Administration has emboldened them even further to the point where they feel they need to take and organize in spaces where they normally aren’t welcome,” said San Francisco resident Dale Smith, 27.

For groups like Refuse Fascism, the victory at the Civic Center was no match for the years to come.

Organizer Rafael Kadaris, 36, said, “As important as it is to stand up against the Nazis, racists, and fascists, it’s even more important to get rid of the regime in the White House. Today, it feels great and it feels like a victory, but we can’t stop until the Trump regime is out.”