No Room for Hate in San Francisco

No Room for Hate in San Francisco

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SAN FRANCISCO -- A crowd rallied in front of San Francisco’s City Hall on Friday, one day ahead of a planned protest by members of the Patriot Prayer group. Critics associate the conservative group with far right supporters of a violent white nationalist march in Charlottesville two weeks earlier.

Organizers of Friday’s rally included San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and members of the Board of Supervisors, along with local civil rights and advocacy organizations. The message was one of tolerance, an embrace of diversity, and love.

“The sun is shining on San Francisco today,” exclaimed State Assemblyman David Chiu (D – San Francisco) to a chorus of cheers from the crowd – estimated at between 200 and 300. Referencing the recent solar eclipse, Chiu told onlookers that ancient peoples once believed eclipses meant the “sun was being taken over by darkness and evil. But we know that behind that darkness is light and love!”

California Assemblyman David Chiu addresses a crowd in front of San Francisco's City Hall Friday. 

Members of Patriot Prayer announced Friday afternoon that they were in fact cancelling their rally and would instead be holding a press conference. The group’s founder, Joey Gibson, told reporters the decision was based on concerns over possible violence from counter protestors.

“I am calling on (city officials) to denounce antifa publicly,” Will Johnson, an event organizer with Patriot Prayer, told the San Francisco Chronicle. Antifa – which stands for anti fascist – refers to a loose coalition of activists who have routinely appeared at far right rallies to denounce white nationalism.

Other speakers on Friday included Dr. John Powell of the HAAS Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society. “They may have sympathizers in high places,” he said, an oblique reference to Trump’s perceived support of the far right. “But we have history on our side. And more importantly, we have the future and we have each other.”

Hip hop star and Oakland-born activist MC Hammer leads the crowd in a rendition of "Nothing But Love."

The rally also featured hip-hop musician and activist MC Hammer, who led the crowd in a rendition of Nothing But love. “I feel like I’ve stepped into a time warp. I can’t believe that we are here in 2017 to unite against hate,” he said. “Hate has no place in San Francisco, or the Bay Area.”