LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Extra police will be on hand in Downtown Los Angeles Saturday for a far-left rally that, not surprisingly, is getting the attention of the far-right political contingent.
The demonstration and march organized by the group Refuse Fascism is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. Saturday at Pershing Square. The goal of the rally is to “DRIVE OUT the Trump/Pence regime…as long as it takes.”
“We are certainly preparing ourselves and making sure that we have adequate resources to ensure that those who are there to protest legally and lawfully that they have the opportunity to do so without being disrupted by those who have alternative motives,” Los Angeles police Assistant Chief Horace Frank told City News Service.
The downtown L.A. rally is one of several taking place in 19 cities across the U.S. that are being organized by Refuse Fascism. Officials with the group say it has received threats of violence from alt-right, conservative and white supremacist groups ahead of the rallies. The campaign has gained the attention of far-right personalities like Alex Jones. The internet talk show host behind InfoWars is encouraging supporters to show up to these so-called “Antifa” protests, which his site describes as an “attempt to launch a civil war.”
Frank said the LAPD expects counter-protesters at the demonstration, but it’s unclear how many will show up.
“Those are lies, we’re not calling for civil war,” march organizer Michelle Xia told CBS2 News, adding that their supporters intend to have a peaceful protest.
Still, given the violence that has erupted at events like the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia this past march, violence that resulted in the tragic death of a demonstrator, police are taking no chances and preparing for the worst.
The Los Angeles City Council Tuesday amended an existing ordinance and created the list of banned items — including shields, torches, rods, mace, glass bottles and baseball bats — in an attempt to avoid similar violence.
“We will be operating off of this particular ordinance, which is a very good thing,” Frank said. “It’s an important tool that the City Council has given us as law enforcement, and we are very happy about that.”
While both groups attempt to paint the other as the aggressors, the Refuse Fascism protesters are not linked to Antifa, says Jody Armour, a law professor at the University of Southern California.
“This situation really shows the dangers of fake news,” says Armour, who has been following the “ANTI-FAscist” movement. “The concern is where others come in and hijack your agenda.”
Armour says the alt-right is spinning the Refuse Fascism demonstrations into a violent group they are not.
The Anti-Defamation League says Alex Jones has tried to profit from the rallies by hawking an anti-communist and anti-fascist shirt.
The demonstration is slated for 1 p.m. Saturday. Refuse Fascism has a permit until 7 p.m.
The Los Angeles City Council this week tentatively approved an ordinance that would ban torches, pepper spray and other items that could be used as weapons from protests and rallies.