Los Angeles activist Mattias Lehman, who's helping to organize the noontime action, says as many as 10,000 people have expressed interest in attending the event on Main Street. A permit has been obtained to facilitate the demonstration and one block of Main Street was scheduled to be closed to traffic, he said. Music and speakers were scheduled.
“Join us in our fight against these alt-right groups and our mission to protect not only diversity in the workplace but diversity in our nation,” organizers said in a statement.
Interest in the event swelled following weekend violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, where white nationalists and supremacists attacked counter-demonstrators, resulting in the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer. President Trump's inconsistent remarks on Charlottesville — he ultimately called white nationalist protesters “fine people” — have served to supercharge political divisions and leave some in law enforcement bracing for the worst when conservative demonstrators plan to rally.
The Venice protest is being billed as a reaction to events across the nation called #MarchOnGoogle, but organizers of those demonstrations pulled the plug. “The peaceful March on Google has been postponed due to credible alt-left terrorist threats for the safety of our citizen participants,” according to a statement from organizers this week.
Lehman says it's progressive organizers who have received threats. He pointed to a commenter on his Facebook page who wrote, “One day someone will paint the streets in your blood.” Others have expressed similar anger against his fellow organizers, he said.
Capt. Dominic Choi, from the Los Angeles Police Department's Pacific Division, says his officers are well aware of the Saturday demonstration. “As long as we don't have a clashing of sides, we will have significant resources here just because it's a summer day at the beach,” he says.
“If the situation calls for it, we have access to citywide resources,” he says. “We'll be able to address any public safety issues that come about.”
Organizers of the defunct Google actions argue they're not from the right; they're pro–First Amendment. They hoped to decry the company's firing of employee James Damore, who was canned after publishing a memo that essentially argued women were less suited to engineering. “Google is a monopoly, and it's abusing its power to silence dissent,” according to #MarchOnGoogle.
Damore has stated he does not support the so-called alt-right. But following Charlottesville, critics were quick to associate his argument in favor of discrimination with white nationalists' own crusade for exclusivity.
“When I saw the thing in Charlottesville, I felt like there was something that should be done for people outside Virginia,” Lehman, who has demonstrated with Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, says. “We're just doing our rally about a workplace that should be more inviting for women and people of color. Google's actions in this regard indicate they need to make recruiting women a priority.”
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