San Francisco

Tensions Escalate at ‘Free Speech' Rally in San Francisco

Philip Anderson, the event organizer, does not live in California but flew there for the rally. Anderson lost two teeth when someone from an opposing group punched him in the face

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What was supposed to be a free speech rally by a group of conservatives followed by a protest at Twitter instead turned into a confrontation with counter demonstrators in San Francisco Saturday afternoon.

Dozens of counter protesters arrived at United Nations Plaza prior to the event's 1 p.m. start time. Philip Anderson, who organized the rally and also planned a protest against big tech outside of Twitter's headquarters, was seen getting punched in the face in video posted on social media. The group accuses Twitter of censoring conservative views.

“It doesn’t hurt, but I might need to go to a dentist,” Anderson said. It was later learned that he lost two teeth in the incident.

Anderson tweeted a photo of his injuries with the caption: "Antifa attacked me for no reason."

Anderson does not live in California, but he flew there and put together the event.

A very small group turned out to support Anderson. They identify as supporters of President Donald Trump, and post their conservative views on social media.

Tensions quickly escalated at what organizers called a free speech rally and protest held Saturday afternoon at San Francisco's United Nations Plaza. Pete Suratos reports.

Supporters of Anderson are now trying to raise money for his injuries via a Go Fund Me Campaign.

Note the video embedded below contains graphic language.

“The violence needs to end,” Anderson said. “It has nothing to do with Donald Trump or anyone else. It has to do with free speech.”

Anderson and his supporters did take to the stage briefly, but as counter protesters shouted them down the rally ended abruptly after about 10 minutes.

San Francisco police were on hand to separate the two groups, but the rally organizers were clearly outnumbered. With counter protesters trying to pull down barricades and throwing objects, officers escorted conservative demonstrators out of the plaza and shuttled them to safety in a police van.

Three officers were also hurt, one sent to the hospital after being hit by protester’s pepper spray.

No arrests have been made.

Counter protesters said their aim was to overwhelm the event.

“We actually kicked them out,” said Shagoofa Khan, a counter protester. “They were in front of UN Plaza, they had a stage, they had a lot of police presence.”

“We don’t need those types of people in San Francisco,” said local resident Carole Selignan. “We don’t need a new fascist movement in this country.”

Kristina Lee, another San Francisco resident, said that people need solidarity.

“What we need is working class solidarity against that rhetoric that’s divisive and pits the working class against one another,” Lee said.

After the conservative group was whisked away to safety, the larger opposing group remained and organized a short march on Market Street.

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