Politics

Matt Gaetz’s ‘America First’ Rally Dumped By Third California Venue Hours Before Event


An “America First” rally featuring Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) was rejected by a third California venue on Saturday just hours before the event was set to start.

The city of Anaheim nixed the rally planned for the Anaheim Event Center because of “public safety concerns,” spokesman Mike Lyster said in a statement Saturday. The city and the operator of the center shared concerns about the rally. Lyster did not elaborate on which safety issues worried them. 

“As a city we respect free speech, but also have a duty to call out speech that does not reflect our city and its values,” Lyster noted.

In a final bid to host the event as scheduled, Gaetz tweeted a video of himself alone, in front of the Riverside City Hall, calling on supporters to join him there on Saturday in a “protest against communism.”

His and Greene’s right-wing rally — branded with the same “America First” phrase notoriously used by the Ku Klux Klan (and former President Donald Trump) — had previously been scheduled at two other southern California venues, which also canceled.

Managers of the Pacific Hills Banquet and Event Center in Laguna Hills in Orange County dropped the rally a week ago once they learned of the nature of the event.

“As soon as we found out who the speakers were, we immediately canceled it,” said manager Javad Mirtavoosi.

“We just want to stay clear of that,” he added, without elaborating.

The rally was next scheduled at the Riverside Convention Center, but managers there then informed local officials on Friday that the event at the city-owned venue would not take place after it was widely condemned by residents.

“This was a divisive issue in our community, and I’m glad it has been resolved,” Riverside Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson said in a statement announcing the cancellation.

Mayor Pro Tem Gaby Plascencia called Gaetz and Greene the “antithesis of everything Riverside stands for,” adding, “Riverside is a diverse and inclusive community, so it is heartening to hear that this event will not move forward.”

After the Riverside cancellation, Greene vowed Friday that the rally was still happening. That was before Anaheim dumped the event.

She complained that she and Gaetz had been targeted by “radical communists,” as well as by Black Lives Matter supporters and “antifa,” which she accused of bullying venues into backing out.

Before Gaetz posted his Riverside City Hall video on Saturday, he indicated in a tweet on Saturday that he and Greene planned to sue the city of Riverside over the cancellation.

He also invited supporters to “join us today at our alternative location,” which he didn’t name. The sign-up site for the event did not mention a new venue. Just five hours before the event was to begin at 6 p.m., people who signed up had not yet been informed of a new location, according to the Orange County Register.


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