Bay Area Leaders Strive To Protect Speech, Prevent Violence

Do Americans have the right to exercise their 1st Amendment rights without being attacked and shut down by Antifa? Will the progressives support the right of free speech with speech they disagree with? And where is this violence coming from? 

I tracked down what Patriot Prayer is all about. You can watch their video here. They are not a white supremacist movement. Not pro-Trump. But they are pro-free speech. 

So here’s my question: what about this group is Antifa protesting? 

Via the AP

Police and civic leaders in the cradle of America’s free speech movement will struggle to balance liberty of expression with safeguards against violence as demonstrators with varying political viewpoints travel to the San Francisco Bay Area for dueling rallies throughout the weekend.

On Saturday, a politically conservative group called Patriot Prayer will host a “freedom rally” near the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge, over the vociferous objections of San Francisco’s Mayor Ed Lee and other Democratic leaders who say the group invites hate. On Sunday, a transsexual supporter of President Donald Trump plans a “No to Marxism in America” event in a downtown city park in nearby Berkeley.

Opponents will mobilize too, including clowns and drag queens as well as an anti-Trump organization that has sometimes supported violent tactics.

The challenge for law enforcement comes after an Aug. 12 rally of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia that turned deadly, killing one counter-protester and two state troopers. Police in both California cities traditionally have given demonstrators a wide berth, even when rallies in recent years turned violent as protesters from both the left and the right have punched people, destroyed property and engaged in violence.

But the deaths and injuries in Charlottesville have police, civic leaders and civil rights groups in the San Francisco area and across the United States rethinking how to respond to hate speech and how to manage competing protests.

The American Civil Liberties Union said it will no longer represent hate groups that demonstrate with weapons after it was criticized for persuading a judge to let the Charlottesville protest go forward. In Boston last weekend, police successfully separated tens of thousands of people shouting anti-Nazi and anti-KKK slogans who showed up to protest a much smaller conservative “free speech” rally – but drawing some complaints that the speakers didn’t get to be heard.

“We’re in an interesting situation no question about it, where the Bay Area, known for its protection of speech is also known for how much it deplores discrimination and hate speech,” said Julie Nice, a constitutional law professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law.

She said police are in a tough spot because they are constitutionally obligated to protect even hateful speech until the point that speech crosses the line into violence.