Hundreds of people from communities throughout San Diego converged Sunday to show support for Chicano Park, in response to an SDFP story indicating local ultra-rightists were plotting to “take down” its historic murals in response to Confederate monuments being removed around the nation.
Rumors quickly spread through Facebook and other social media, escalating a what likely a reconnaissance mission into a full-blown white supremacist rally. A couple of folks decided it might be a good idea to have a picnic in the park as a gesture of solidarity and put it up as a Facebook event. Hundreds of people RSVP’d. Fortunately, the Chicano Park Steering Committee stepped in and took control of the event.
A PA system was procured, security was arranged, and speakers from the community were invited. The San Diego Organizing Project encouraged religious leaders from a variety of faiths to attend.
The crowd for what became known as a Solidarity Rally was about as diverse as you can get: young/old, black/brown/white, committed street activists/local politicians. students/families. The mood around the event was upbeat. Everybody was proud of how fast and organized an event responding to a perceived threat had been put together.
Then, after about an hour of good feelings, they showed up. LA-based conservative blogger Arthur Schaper, Roger Ogden and three other ‘patriots’ arrived on the North side of National Avenue. Schaper strolled over to the sidewalk and began shooting video–loudly narrating the horrors he was seeing in the park. I was up on the pedestrian bridge trying to get a bird’s eye photo of the crowd, when I saw a cluster of police moving and the growing recognition in the park that the bad guys were present.
Given Ogden’s comments–which we didn’t post–responding to my original Chicano Park story with vague legal threats, I wanted to see up close and personal what would happen. The provocateur continued shooting his video behind a line of policemen, and event security urged people to stay back. The rest of Odgen’s gang sat at a picnic table eating a pizza.
Plenty of words were exchanged, and given that there was a freelance videographer who sells to Breitbart nearby, I’m sure a video will soon make the rounds in right wing circles of these ‘innocents’ being hounded by a mob. Eventually, Ogden and his crew–which included one of the Proud Boys who disrupted the July 2 impeachment rally– retreated up the street, surrounded by police and followed by a group of a couple of hundred people feeling mighty satisfied with showing these types the way out.
San Diego’s Fright Wingers have been especially busy since the November 2016 election. They turned out angry crowds to oppose a Welcoming City resolution in Imperial Beach with promises of a Mexican drug lord invasion. They stole the spotlight when the San Diego Unified School District sought to create anti-bullying guidelines, panicking over what they claimed was the impending imposition of Sharia Law.
Fear is what they’re selling, and their product always manages to include people of color. If that doesn’t seem to be working, there is always the Communist conspiracy, probably financed by billionaire George Soros. And somehow those defending whatever “other” these Right-Thinking Americans are attacking get plenty of threats. Not that there is any connection, of course… Just like they’re not racists.
The City of San Diego moved quickly to remove a Confederacy-linked plaque last month after it became clear these testimonials to treason were becoming an issue nationwide in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville. It was too fast for some of our local far-right types, one of whom went on Carl DeMaio’s talk radio show to suggest there was somehow equivalency between Confederate memorials and the murals in Chicano Park.
As I detailed in an earlier article, some correspondence from these types was leaked to San Diego Free Press, including a discussion of a mission to Chicano Park to get the process in motion. Past efforts of this sorts have started with a video on Roger Ogden’s video channel and a writeup in Patriot Fire, formerly known as Impeach Obama Now!
Good “Americans” were urged to contact their City Councilperson and complain about the “huge monument honoring Communism and La Raza ultra nationalism.” (I’m sure this had absolutely nothing to do with the many racist emails reported by Councilman David Alvarez’ office.)
What these right wingers have managed to successfully do in the past is create the framing of news media coverage about whatever it is they’re opposing with their message as one of the ‘sides’ of the story.
After the Sunday rally, there aren’t sides to the Chicano Park story, only a narrative about community solidarity in the face of not very veiled racism.
The cockroaches have scurried into the darkness, for now. Tens of thousands of people viewed the original SDFP story on the threat these types posed to a great community institution. Now you need to do your part and make sure to share this account on social media, etc, so people can see what happens when you shine a light on hate.