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Bay Area white supremacy rallies stir controversy

A+protester+from+the+alt-left+organization+ANTIFA+stirs+up+the+crowd+in+Berkeley+on+Aug.+27.+Thousands+of+pretesters+came+together+in+Berkeley+and+San+Francisco+to+day+before+in+response+to+planned+speeches+from+conservative+groups+Patriot+Prayer+and+No+Marxism.
A protester from the alt-left organization ANTIFA stirs up the crowd in Berkeley on Aug. 27. Thousands of pretesters came together in Berkeley and San Francisco to day before in response to planned speeches from conservative groups Patriot Prayer and No Marxism.

A protester from the alt-left organization ANTIFA stirs up the crowd in Berkeley on Aug. 27. Thousands of pretesters came together in Berkeley and San Francisco to day before in response to planned speeches from conservative groups Patriot Prayer and No Marxism.

Photo by Conan Maron

Photo by Conan Maron

A protester from the alt-left organization ANTIFA stirs up the crowd in Berkeley on Aug. 27. Thousands of pretesters came together in Berkeley and San Francisco to day before in response to planned speeches from conservative groups Patriot Prayer and No Marxism.

Conan Moran, Staff Writer

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From Boston to Seattle to the Bay Area, cities across the US have been experiencing rallies that raise questions about the right to assemble, which is part of the First Amendment, following the events of Charlottesville, Va. 

The Bay Area itself experienced last month a combination of peaceful and violent protests against conservative rallies in San Francisco and at the University of California Berkeley campus. 

Originally, conservative political organizations Patriot Prayer and No Marxism in America were planning huge free speech rallies at Crissy Field and Martin Luther King Junior square on Aug. 26.

With every available police officer scheduled for duty, and with thousands of counter protesters planning to descend on these political rallies, the stage was set for Charlottesville-level political violence. 

In San Francisco, many protesters said they believe that right wing organizations such as Patriot Prayer have the right to assemble, but that individuals have the right to express themselves by standing up to them.

Some protesters believed that by planning these rallies, the organizers’ goal was trying to bring out worst in the Bay Area by painting liberal counter protesters as the bad guys. Many protesters said they were there to  show that a majority stands up for equality. 

Counter protest rallies in San Francisco went along rather peacefully, but the same can’t be said for Berkeley. 

Counter protesters greatly outnumbered the amount of people who showed up from the Patriot Prayer and No Marxism in America organizations on Aug. 27, the day after the San Francisco rally.

The alt-left organization ANTIFA had hundreds of their protesters all dressed in black in huge crowds that resembled a giant black block. 

The mood at Berkeley remained tense and one of complete mob mentality as ANTIFA members started releasing smoke bombs and accusing random people of being Nazis.

AP US History teacher Scott Hodges believes in the right to assemble, but asks at what point in today’s political climate does that right to assemble start to infringe on other people’s rights. 

Hodges said that inflammatory language doesn’t work when protesting and that groups like ANTIFA end up bringing down the overall public perceptions of many counter protesters by automatically associating them with ANTIFA’s increasingly violent methods of protest.  

Those who were deemed to support President Trump or right wing organizations were quickly chased out with pepper spray or beaten down and mobbed by ANTIFA members. 

Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson ended up meeting such fierce resistance from counter protesters that he had to be escorted out of the park in the safety of the police. 

Police later reported that 13 people were arrested for various counts of battery, suspicious activity, and resisting police. 

Rallies such as these in Berkley and San Francisco raise many questions about free speech, how people can interpret it, and whether certain groups’ right to assemble can be justified. 

Cal High students and teachers have differing opinions about this topic.

Junior Kai Choate believes that leftist organizations like ANTIFA are opposed to the First Amendment. 

“ANTIFA is a domestic terrorist group that organizes only to shut down points of view that it doesn’t accept,” said Choate.

He also believes that this extremist group’s intolerance includes immediately dismissing  everything it deems hateful.

“This is neither effective nor efficient since you can’t have one most radical side with no room for moderation,” said Choate.  

Junior Peter Vannucchi said that in today’s political society, liberals try to downsize Republican values as satanic and demonic, but in reality, many conservative views are compatible with society. 

“These are just people who simply have different beliefs about government,”  said Vannucchi. 

Vannucchi  said that there is hypocrisy on the left.

“Liberals preaches tolerance but lack political tolerance themselves,” said Vannucchi.

He believes places like Berkeley have such a poor reaction to Republican values because of a political echo chamber that encourages liberalism, creating issues for people once they enter a multi- spectrum political climate in college.

“ANTIFA itself are fascists walking around in communist uniforms and their leader is a radical teacher,”said Vannucchi.

Freshman Aiden Jenkins thinks many of these political rallies often turn violent because of violent individuals joining in for the sole reason for causing chaos and breaking property. 

Jenkins also believes that many liberals automatically compare conservatives to racists. 

Junior  Emma Schroeder calls many of these rallies over the top and unnecessary since they tend to go overboard and result in violence most of the time. 

“All the groups end up doing the exact opposite of what they want,” said junior Kennedy Nettler.

AP US History teacher Troy Bristol believes there’s a problem with people listening to each other these days.

 “If you don’t like what other sides have to say, you should let them speak. If you don’t, they can easily play the victim card.”said Bristol. 

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The School Newspaper for California High School, San Ramon CA
Bay Area white supremacy rallies stir controversy