Protesters turn out in San Francisco despite canceled rally

Hundreds of counter-protesters gathered near a barricaded San Francisco park Saturday despite the cancellation of a free-speech rally that city leaders feared could draw right-wing extremists.

The planned gathering by Patriot Prayer had been the centerpiece of a weekend of protests in the Bay Area that had raised concern among police and elected officials two weeks after right-wing activists, including neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan, fought with anti-racism protesters in the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia.

Patriot Prayer founder Joey Gibson, who has denied that his group is extremist or white nationalist, wrote on Facebook Saturday he would show up at random spots in the city to talk to residents. He apologized to supporters who came for the fizzled event.

"Basically everywhere we go, the police, the city, they want to shut it down," Gibson said in a video posted on Facebook.

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San Francisco city officials including Mayor Ed Lee had lobbied the National Park Service to deny a permit for Patriot Prayer to hold its event at Crissy Field, which is under federal control as part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

When that permit was granted on Wednesday, Lee told residents of San Francisco to essentially boycott the rally.

In nearby Berkeley, officials earlier in the week had denied a permit for conservative activists to hold a "No to Marxism" rally Sunday.

Also Saturday, an estimated 400 counter-demonstrators gathered in Knoxville, Tennessee to protest less than two dozen demonstrators at a white separatist rally at the Fort Sanders Confederate memorial, which some have called to remove, the Knoxville News-Sentinel reported.

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Protesters who showed up to counter-protest Joey Gibson's press conference, the organizer who cancelled the Crissy Field ' Patriot Prayer', continue their demonstration despite Gibson cancelling again on August 26, 2017 at Alamo Square in San Francisco, California. / AFP PHOTO / Amy Osborne (Photo credit should read AMY OSBORNE/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters who showed up to counter-protest Joey Gibson's press conference, the organizer who cancelled the Crissy Field ' Patriot Prayer', continue their demonstration despite Gibson cancelling again on August 26, 2017 at Alamo Square in San Francisco, California. / AFP PHOTO / Amy Osborne (Photo credit should read AMY OSBORNE/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters who showed up to counter-protest Joey Gibson's press conference, the organizer who cancelled the Crissy Field ' Patriot Prayer', continue their demonstration despite Gibson cancelling again on August 26, 2017 at Alamo Square in San Francisco, California. / AFP PHOTO / Amy Osborne (Photo credit should read AMY OSBORNE/AFP/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 26: A child stand next to a line of police officers by Alamo Square as demonstrators rally ahead of a news conference by the organizers of the cancelled alt-right Patriot Prayer rally on August 26, 2017 in San Francisco, California. Originally planned to be held at Crissy Field, the rally and the subsequent news conference were cancelled by organizers citing safety concerns as various groups were expected to counter demonstrate against the controversial event while city officials continue preparing for any possible unrest. (Photo by Stephen Lam/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 26: A counter-demonstrator holds a sign in protest near Alamo Square as demonstrators rally ahead of a news conference by the organizers of the cancelled alt-right Patriot Prayer rally on August 26, 2017 in San Francisco, California. Originally planned to be held at Crissy Field, the rally and the subsequent news conference were cancelled by organizers citing safety concerns as various groups were expected to counter demonstrate against the controversial event while city officials continue preparing for any possible unrest. (Photo by Stephen Lam/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 26: Counter-demonstrators rally near Alamo Square as demonstrators rally ahead of a news conference by the organizers of the cancelled alt-right Patriot Prayer rally on August 26, 2017 in San Francisco, California. Originally planned to be held at Crissy Field, the rally and the subsequent news conference were cancelled by organizers citing safety concerns as various groups were expected to counter demonstrate against the controversial event while city officials continue preparing for any possible unrest. (Photo by Stephen Lam/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 26: Police officers march toward Alamo Square as demonstrators rally ahead of a news conference by the organizers of the cancelled alt-right Patriot Prayer rally on August 26, 2017 in San Francisco, California. Originally planned to be held at Crissy Field, the rally and the subsequent news conference were cancelled by organizers citing safety concerns as various groups were expected to counter demonstrate against the controversial event while city officials continue preparing for any possible unrest. (Photo by Stephen Lam/Getty Images)
Protesters who showed up to counter-protest Joey Gibson's press conference, the organizer who cancelled the Crissy Field ' Patriot Prayer', continue their demonstration despite Gibson cancelling again on August 26, 2017 at Alamo Square in San Francisco, California. / AFP PHOTO / Amy Osborne (Photo credit should read AMY OSBORNE/AFP/Getty Images)
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Police officers and barricades separated the two sides. One organizer carried a sign reading, "Stand Against Leftist Hate" to the hisses and boos of counter-protesters, the paper reported. Photos showed them holding Confederate flags.

A woman who was not yet identified was arrested when she attempted to crash the counter-protester side late Saturday afternoon, according to local media.

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