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Saturday about 20 fascists gathered in San Francisco under the pretext of complaining about their accounts being banned from social media websites like Twitter. Philip Anderson, a MAGA influencer and self-professed member of the Proud Boys who previously assaulted a friend of LCRW’s editorial board in July in Portland, organized the event–poorly.
Most of the event’s speakers pulled out beforehand, including Proud Boys leaders Enrique Tarrio and Joe Biggs. Others like Ashton Whitty, a former correspondent for InfoWars and the white nationalist website The Red Elephants, and QAnon conspiracy cult promoter “QAnon Obi-Wan” said they weren’t even reached out to before being put on the bill.
But Anderson was undeterred. His final list of speakers were mostly friends of Haley Adams, a Portland-area white supremacist organizer and associate of Joey Gibson’s murderous street fighting gang Patriot Prayer. Adams’s crew has long attracted some of the most violent people in Portland’s protest scene. One long-time member, Skylor Jernigan, was recently arrested for firing a handgun at protesters. One notable exception was former San Francisco mayoral candidate Ellen Lee Zhou, who at the time of this writing has an incoherent graphic promoting an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory as her pinned tweet. Another notable was Andrew Duncomb, a neo-Confederate who goes by the stage name “Black Rebel” and marched with the neo-Nazis at the infamous Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017.
“We’re good to go. All we’re going to be doing now is beating the living shit out of the people trying to stop us,” Anderson said in a vlog before the rally.
At about eleven in the morning not many people had shown up for the 1:00 rally, but a source witnessed this scene. A truck rolled up and started unloading the stage for the day’s event. Anderson walked up to a cop.
“I’m gonna go to the bathroom, just so you know,” Anderson told the cop.
“Umm..ok?” the cop replied.
Anderson walked off and LCRW’s source then approached the cop.
“Hey, I’m media and we’re trying to not get caught between the two groups. Do you know what your guys’ plan is here?” our source asked.
“I have no idea but that’s Antifa,” the cop said, pointing to some random people who weren’t dressed in black bloc.
“Oh, ok, thanks. That guy that asked you about the bathroom–was he with the other side?” our source asked the cop.
“I dunno. I think he was just a construction worker,” the cop replied.
Before the rally even properly began, Anderson got punched in the face and lost two of his front teeth. One of his entourage stepped in front of the barricade police set up to protect the fascists from the angry crowd of anti-racist counter-protestors. He was, predictably, being heckled and went away before returning with Anderson and some other members of Haley Adams’s crew. Anderson’s entourage failed to protect him from getting his teeth knocked out. SFPD announced an arrest in the assault on Monday. He would spend most of his remaining time in San Francisco showing off his bloody mouth. As of this writing, he’s received $27,000 in donations.
I encountered the fascists just after Anderson was punched. I recognized David Willis, a violent felon from Haley Adams’s entourage who attacked people at a bar called Cider Riot in Portland last year after forming a group to “cleanse the streets” of that fair city. Recently, Willis was caught by Eugene Antifa plotting to fire glass and metal balls at protesters and journalists in secret online chats.
After some deliberation, Anderson and Haley Adams’s entourage decided to go up to the podium and begin their event. I was at the barrier and could barely hear Anderson speak through his broken teeth and the sub-par PA system as a crowd of about 500 pelted them with eggs, rotten fruit, and plastic and glass bottles. One member of the crew would later complain about getting hit with a water bottle “in the nuts.”
I saw exactly one person, a woman in a PragerU hat carrying a blue lives matter flag, who showed up in support outside of the barrier. Protesters later stole her flag and burned it. They also dumped water on her. After ten minutes of being pelted and jeered at, police apparently told Anderson it wasn’t safe. The fascists retreated.
While the crowd initially stayed to confront the cops, people quickly figured out that they could catch up with the fascists as they retreated to their cars. People continued to heckle them and pelt them with trash. There was a brief incident where a Trump supporter I hadn’t seen at the main rally got pepper sprayed along with an EMT. Video from Patriot Prayer member Mack Lewis appears to show fellow Patriot Prayer member Chandler Pappas putting an unknown object in his pocket before they were dropped off at the garage they parked at. On the Citizen app, police reported someone fleeing the rally dropped an illegal-in-California 17-round handgun magazine on the ground. On Andrew Duncomb’s livestream, they repeatedly shouted at the parking attendant and someone filming them to lift the garage gate and them out. Apparently the machine wouldn’t read their ticket.
“Lift up the barricade! We’re not Proud Boys! We gotta get out!” one of them shouts.
Whether or not Anderson himself is a Proud Boy, local far-right organizer Lindsay Grathwohl claimed that local Proud Boys were doing security at the event.
The fascists were supposed to come stand in front of Twitter headquarters around 4PM, but antifascists marched en masse with wooden shields and banners a few blocks over on Market street to the building. They occupied the corner Twitter’s housed in, at one point beating and chasing off a Trump supporter who tried to walk through the crowd with a red MAGA hat. It’s not clear to me who pepper-sprayed who in the crowd, but the medics washed my eyes out, so thanks to them.
It appears the fascists did try to come to Twitter HQ at one point. A large police line apparently attempted to hold space and escort them in a little before 3PM. I could see a blue lives matter flag in the distance. Police beat people with their batons and shot a few crowd control munitions at them. As far as I know, it was just rubber bullets–not chemical weapons.
Eventually people retreated back to Twitter HQ from a block away where the riot line set up. At 3:30, to the private objections of a number of seasoned antifascists I spoke to, people decided to head back to Civic Center Plaza to disperse and did so without incident. I asked someone who had a megaphone and was telling people where to go why they were dispersing when the fascists were supposed to show up in the next half an hour.
“We had our action and people were starting to get hurt,” they said.
At around 4PM, no one was around at Twitter. I went to check, suspecting with no one to oppose them the fascists might return. They didn’t. Instead, it was just a boarded up block of overpriced real-estate with spray paint everywhere saying things like “Fuck Proud Boys and Twitter.”
The fascists, predictably, planned to retaliate for the humiliation.
“You guys are going to be awfully sorry when Patriots decide to strike back. Awfully sorry. And that’s not a threat, that’s a G.D. promise,” Kareem Patton, a Patriot Prayer associate who participated in the Cider Riot attack said on livestream after the event.
“We coming back, but when we come back it’s gonna be more like what happened in Portland on the 26th,” Duncomb said. The Proud Boys held a rally last month in Portland in a closed-off park with relatively low attendance. They assaulted a live-streamer and gave death threats to journalists who went to observe.
But it wasn’t just the attendees. Proud Boy leadership felt this was an embarrassment and made an announcement that they’d come to San Francisco. It’s unclear if any of them will actually follow through with the rally.
“So I hear you runnin’ your mouth, Philip, and that’s cool. I got it. You’re emotional right now. Antifa knocked your teeth out. You know what we’re gonna do? Enrique and I are going to hold a properly organized rally in San Francisco and call it the ‘Demand Free Teeth Rally’ in honor of you,” Joe Biggs said.
“See, this is what happens when you have piss-poor planning. Piss-poor planning leads to putting peoples’ lives in danger. You’re no hero. You’re no badass. You didn’t do anything cool. What you did was put people’s lives in danger,” he said.
“They’re worried about optics while we worry about decisive wins. What happened to Phillip was unfortunate and again I prey [sic] for a speedy recovery. But thinking that losing your two front teeth is an optical win is shortsighted. It makes our side look weak when we are STRONG,” Enrique Tarrio, the Proud Boys’ leader, said.
Anderson, as stated earlier, planned the rally under the pretense of protesting “conservatives” getting banned from social media. His old Twitter account, where he called himself a “black Groyper,” was suspended. On Monday, his new “Team Save America” Twitter account was suspended.