It has come to my attention that a small radical group has been attempting to defame my character online. The group, who will remain nameless, is asserting that a Constitution event I attended on November 17th 2018 was actually a rally promoting hate.
In the weeks leading up to this event, extremists operating under the guise of internet anonymity began spreading unverified rumors online that the planned November rally would attract racists / nazis / hate groups. This led to quite a large group of protestors amassing to counter the planned event.
Event organizers repeatedly stated that no racists were being invited and that no racism nor hatred would be allowed. Leading up to the rally, some even gave interviews with local outlets reiterating the point,“As far as any actual ‘hate groups,’ I am not aware of their planned attendance,” Rehl told PhillyVoice this week. “If anyone thinks this rally is a platform to display hate or intolerance for any group, then they have the wrong idea for what this event is about and we ask they stay home to avoid any issues.
“First of all, it’s not a rally for Proud Boys,” Rehl, 33, said Wednesday. “We’re not interested in having any racist groups there, and if we find them, we’re going to remove them from the event. Philadelphia is a tough city, and we want to let them know there’s people here with different opinions. There’s people who love the Constitution and people who don’t.”https://www.philly.com/philly/news/proud-boys-far-right-white-nationalist-rally-philadelphia-pushback-campaign-antifa-20181024.html
The event itself was attended by around 30-60 people and had several speakers. People from many different backgrounds and walks of life were in attendance. Those speaking presented ideas, discussion around the Constitution, calls for unity, calls for cooperation, and even offered the protestors an opportunity to debate.
Our event remained peaceful the entire time. There were no hate groups in attendance, nor invited.
Desmond. who preferred his last name not be used, 27, is Black and gay. He didn’t vote for Trump in 2016 but said he would support his re-election bid.
“I came here because I’m interested in meeting like-minded conservatives,” Desmond said. “I also came to demonstrate that there are Black conservatives and Black people that will come out and support the president.”https://www.phillytrib.com/news/black-trump-supporters-no-hate-here/article_70a3d96f-ffd2-5f42-86bb-c5ca658fb2e2.html
We even attracted the attention of Benjamin Franklin’s brother, or more technically the re-enactor playing the role. The gentleman briefly spoke to people at our event, and then went across the street to try and talk to the protestors. He came back to our event and gave an impromptu speech, opening with the following line, “I talked briefly to both sides. I decided I liked this side far better”.
Towards the end of our event the first sign of violence broke out. Attendees noticed a scuffle and police rushing to intervene across the street. To those in attendance we had no idea what happened until we read the news later in the evening.
We found out that the protestors falsely asserted that a Jewish man was a Nazi next to the National Museum of Jewish American History. Since many of the protestors came masked and looking for a fight, all it took was for somebody to scream the accusation
Zachary told Billy Penn he attended the protest as an observer with some friends, and they were hanging out on the counter-protest corral on the south side of the Mall. He said he and a friend ventured across the police bike barricade along on Market Street to use the bathroom inside the Constitution Center. Before he returned, he and his friend stopped to speak with some other “observers” around the right-ring protest corral. When he returned to the other side of Market Street, he noticed a counter-protester filming him, smirking. Zachary approached to ask if he was being filmed, he said.
A brief dispute about Zachary’s intentions on the other side of the rally quickly escalated.
“He starts yelling, ‘This guy’s a Nazi! This guy’s a Proud Boy!’ and I think, ‘Oh my god,” Zachary recounted.
The linked BillyPenn article significantly softens the actions of the protestors, but clearly demonstrates that those organizing and protesting jump to these wild conclusions and then immediately resort to group violence. The article even tries to paint a sympathetic picture of the attacker’s intentions.
This was not the protestors’ only incident either. One Glenside resident was even arrested for assaulting a police officer and a handful of other protestors were arrested for lesser crimes.
“Assaulting a law enforcement agent – whether a federal, state, or local officer – is a crime that I take very seriously,” U.S. Attorney William McSwain said in a statement. “There is no excuse for it. No matter who you are, if you assault an officer and there is federal jurisdiction, I will bring the full weight of my office down upon you.”
According to a press release from McSwain’s office, as the “We the People” group “waved flags and made speeches, approximately 500 protesters gathered, “yelling obscenities at both the permitted group and at state, local, and federal law enforcement officers. As officers kept the two groups separate, Glantz allegedly “pushed back at the officers and, while on Park property, punched a Philadelphia Police Department officer in the side of his face as he was in the performance of his duties; the defendant continued to resist the officers’ efforts to arrest him, kicking his legs and wrestling with the officers and park rangers.” Glantz or his attorneys could not immediately be reached for comment.
The protestors did not stop after our Constitution event had concluded. Many stalked attendees as they tried to return to their homes. Other groups walked around the city looking to pick fights with people.
One of these groups, made up primarily of ANTIFA extremists, wandered over to South Front Street looking to pick a fight. These violent extremists found two Hispanic Marine Reservists in town for the weekend and decided to take their anger out on them.
At about 3:20 p.m. Saturday, the military reservists were on the 100 block of S. Front Street when, police say, they were approached by numerous males and females who began calling them “Nazis” and “white supremacists.”https://www.fox29.com/news/police-military-reservists-assaulted-robbed-after-weekend-protest
The group of protestors maced the reservists, assaulted them, yelled racially charged insults at them, and emptied their pockets before running off.
On the stand, Godinez said that he was “bewildered” by being called a white supremacist and immediately cried out, “I’m Mexican!” After that, as the attack continued, both men said that members of the group, including Keenan, repeatedly used ethnic slurs, including “spic” and “wetback,” against the Marines. (There was no testimony that Massey used any such language).
Godinez testified that he was maced at least six times, hit in the head, and kicked in the ribs, and he said that while he was being “stomped,” members of the group, which the judge and the district attorney’s office have both referred to as a “mob,” chanted “fuck him up” over and over again.
I find it interesting that those groups claiming to be against hatred and violence that spread all of these misleading rumors online, are generally comprised of hateful violent extremists themselves.
An organizer of the event even had a brick thrown through the front window of his house, narrowly missing his Girlfriend.
Rehl says his girlfriend, who he lives with, was sitting in the front room with another friend when the brick came flying through their window.
“It basically just missed her face by inches,” Rehl told Big League Politics. “She ran right to the door to see who it was, and she saw a white pickup truck peel down the street” and the graffiti left by her front door.
“She’s still a little shook about it.”
Rehl filed a police report, and says he is fortunate to be on good terms with many of his neighbors who have video surveillance of their properties, which may help to identify the attacker.
I think the events that played out on November 17th speak much louder than accusations on social media by those pushing an agenda. They share such accusations without any evidence and are quick to accuse those who question their assertions.
I’m not able to vouch for anyone but myself, but I can certainly reassure those reading that I’ve never been associated with any hate group nor have I ever identified with any. I grew up around Kennett Square and attended an incredibly diverse school. I’ve done pro-bono work for minority groups and volunteered with a local MLK Jr group for a number of years.
I hold no prejudices. Hate has no home in my heart. In fact, Love Lives Here.