Leader of Group Attacked as Racist and Hateful Identifies as Japanese American

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Joey Gibson describes himself as Japanese American and a defender of free speech.

The leader of the group Patriot Prayer says he has nothing to do with White supremacists, but his rallies have attracted neo-Nazis, members of the alt right and White nationalists, according to the SF Examiner.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi have described Gibson’s group as hateful and citing the potential of violence, have urged the National Park Service to deny a permit for a planned rally as San Francisco’s Crissy Field. Past Patriotic Prayer rallies in Portland and Seattle have sparked clashes between protesters and counter-protesters.

“We won’t let any extremists speak. We’ll let moderates speak. It’s a big part of the goal,” said Gibson to the Examiner. “We have 10 speakers now, and out of them, we have one White male speaking. There’s guy named Jake Von Ott, with Identity Europa, we tried not to let him in. There’s nothing we can do about [him attending]. We don’t want him there. We made signs saying we don’t support Identity Europa. I’ve literally disowned White supremacists [in his videos]. It’s getting old. We will not let them in. We’re not going to let the flags in. I give you my word, it’s a promise.”

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Others, however, say Gibson’s arguments for free speech are a guise, according to the SF Chronicle.

“The strategy is relatively clever,” said Randy Blazak, a professor from the University of Oregon who has studied hate groups for 20 years. “They go into liberal country and get the organized left to attack them and then look like victims.”

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