Why I am Marching On Crissy Field

By Melanie Nathan, August 23, 2017.

“If they are going to be there, then let the world see that in the era of Trump we have Nazi flags adorning our beloved Golden Gate bridge.”

Within a couple of days after Charlottesville we heard that a there had been an application for a permit to hold the Patriot Prayer rally at Crissy Field in San Francisco. Without talking to anyone I made a deeply personal decision that I would show up to counter protest any Nazi, White Supremacist or KKK hate, should such groups attend the rally.  I did not intend to be an organizer of anything. I just felt I wanted to show up and I visualized all of San Francisco showing up, in what I have since been able to coin as the “Boston Effect.”  It turns out that after my intent was quoted in the press, I was soon approached for several other interviews.   Not only of interest, because like many, I am deeply impacted, and in my case as a Jew, a lesbian, a mom, a woman, and an immigrant, a proudly naturalized American citizen, but because almost everyone around me was talking avoidance .

Crissy Field, is under Federal jurisdiction, and the Patriot Rally organizers were granted the permit based on their right to free speech. We have since been informed by organizers that they have invited mostly people of color to speak, a transgender person and that only one white person will be speaking. According to the organizer that is hardly a ‘White Supremacist rally. ‘  The uproar has been over the fact that the Patriot Prayer events a tend to attract KKK, Nazis, White Supremacists and Trump zealots. One would deduce that Mayor Ed Lee and Leader Nancy Pelosi must have some form of intel as they are trying to thwart the rally with pleas to the NPS to revoke the permits.   They express the fear of confrontation causing violence.  Mayor Ed Lee has also been asking counter protestors to counter by attending ‘avoidance events’ instead, and has been holding meetings and working actively with organizers to stage an enticing event to attract people away from Crissy Field.    This event, touted as entertainment with music and well known local performers, is designed to express love and is being held with the Mayor’s approval, promotion and under his controlling and watchful eye, at Civic Center, in front of City Hall. Many miles away from Crissy Field.   The Mayor, according to several sources, held a meeting insisting that there could not be any political speech. Apparently several people expressed their outrage and so an Emcee was invited to host the big show.

There are also several individuals and organizations organizing a variety of “avoidance” events around the city.

This type of control has saddened me, as the Mayor had an opportunity to lead the people of San Francisco, Boston style, in a manner that would not serve to avoid or silence, but would rather serve to tackle the hate that under the Trump leadership has sent America into the gutter, chugging on the bottle of bigotry. Akin to an alcoholic at its lowest – we have the opportunity to confront this head on – once and for all. And that is precisely what we must do, or we will be slurping down those last drops until the bitter end.

I believe Crissy Field is where we should be if we plan to face bigotry head on.

For far too long racism, antisemitism and bigotry has presented in America under veiled hoods. Now with license granted by Donald Trump, the hoods are off.  The President of the United States of America has created false equivalencies between Nazis and the “fine” people of the U.S.A.  Additionally, we are facing a rise in Fascism and White Supremacist ideologues, with recent stats revealing a significant increased acceptance of White Supremacist dicta.

The Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan is refusing to censure Trump for what is clearly a racist attack, when Trump said that among those Nazis were some “fine people” and when he said that “many sides” were to blame for the violence in Charlottesville that led to death and mayhem.  We were stunned – our duty now is a million fold to face that beast! Not to run from it for fear of what may seem to some as inopportune photo ops.

With this said – our duty here on the ground is still to rise and confront the beast, armed with love and peace, head on!

Here are my thoughts:

  1. Protesting that which has impacted one directly is deeply personal and no one can dictate to another, what is the right or wrong way to approach KKK, Nazis, White Supremacists or so called “Patriots”. So while I tout my perspective it is incumbent on me to respect that of others, while disappointed in our failed leadership. Instead of us marching on Crissy Field in huge numbers, we will lack the support of the largest possible organic crowd and be denied “the Boston Effect.”
  2. There is a crucial symbolism in facing the antisemitism, racism, islamophobia bigotry homophobia misogyny HEAD ON! Boston showed us that.
  3. Forcing the authorities to face the risk of allowing free speech permits into the hands of those with clear violent intent- if they see would have believed that we were planning a huge turnout at Crissy Field, there would have been a much greater chance that they would revoke those permits … because they are then forced to assess the risk and their capacity to control it- in other words the factors change from granting a mere free speech permit.
  4. I believe that the neo-nazis white supremacists and kkk are broken human beings. I believe they are mostly cowards. To be faced with a crowd 1000 times the size, hugely diverse, sporting camp colorful regalia, chanting love and peace with musical instruments, in true San Francisco style, would be truly an appropriate attack on bigotry. Such would piggy back a movement started by Boston – to set the tone for all Cities to attack hate with its unique style. This would have the power to evolve into the first movement of its kind to combat hate. Of course this would occur at great risk. There was never a worthy movement without great risk. I believe that if we go anywhere else we are not facing what need to happen and thus we are avoiding it.
  5. It should not be about the press, nor trying to entice press to other venues away from the rally. Nor should it be about our concern that a Nazi gets a press photo op with his flag adorning our precious view of the  Golden Gate Bridge. If they are going to be there, then let the world see that in the era of Trump we have Nazi flags adorning our beloved Golden Gate bridge. Maybe then we would awaken the sleeping silent among us. What would be wrong with that? And what of the corollary –  so what if facing bigotry gets press? Surely that is a good thing? So what if people around America and the world actually see the FINE Americans facing off with Nazis. This is a form of resisting Trump too.  And why not invite the newly unhooded who may be our bankers, our teachers, our cake shop owners to show us their faces in the press? Don’t you want to know who they are?  Don’t you want to know why that loan officer denied you the loan?  After all we know those nazis do not have a single fine one among them.  We cannot deny they are here. Why not use the photo opportunity to outnumber them and relish in the “Boston Effect?”
  6. Lest we forget that members of some of our own families never had that chance during Hitler’s Germany. In fact history shows us that even the Jewish managed New York Times back then, before liberation, buried Concentration Camps stories on page 6.  They were uncertain. Now we have a lesson and we are no longer uncertain. So why act uncertain?
  7. We have that chance. Don’t pull us away from our authentic organic rightful response.

And then there have been those trying to persuade me not to go to Crissy Field.   I know they have done so out of love and solicitude.  However if you truly love me, let me do it my way. This is deeply personal. My family members have died from this very hate and others have lost home and country because of it.

On a final note, I don’t want to be told that Dr. King engaged in peaceful marches and therefor I must avoid Crissy Field, to ensure peace. While I don’t think such comparisons should made in the first place, save to note the concept of peaceful protest, Dr. King did anything BUT avoid the beast. Dr. King marched in peace understanding the risk.

Let us all honor what the other wants to do – and we can still be left with our feelings – whether they be feelings of fear, love, disappointment, determination, anger – whatever they may be – lets leave each other to our respective personal choices.  It is with this that I pray for peace and safety for all,  on the day we protest this hate – in whatever form we choose.

Friday Night: I will be at Crissy Field –  7.00 PM on Friday Night for the Anti-Hate Light Vigil (East Beach)    AND FRIDAY NIGHT CRISSY FIELD Anti-HATE LIGHT VIGIL –  CLICK HERE.

Saturday Afternoon: Marching from Marina Greens to Crissy Field on Saturday – 1:00 pm to counter protest the Patriot Prayer Rally which is set to start at 2:00 PM.

Melanie Nathan

#Love #Peace #NOHATE #LoveTrumpsHATE #RESIST


PRESS articles:CBS Chan 5:  http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2017/08/16/debate-planned-patriot-prayer-san-francisco-heats-up/ 

J Weekly https://www.jweekly.com/2017/08/18/bay-area-jews-differ-responses-upcoming-white-supremacist-rallies/

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