Less than 10 hours before Reps. Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene were scheduled to host an America First rally in Anaheim, the city announced that the planned venue had canceled the event.
“We as a city shared our public safety concerns with the operator and the operator shares the concerns,” Anaheim spokesman Mike Lyster said Saturday morning.
This is the third time Gaetz and Greene’s planned rally Saturday night has been canceled, with protesters and city leaders speaking out against allowing the controversial Congress members to host an event in Southern California.
“We respect free speech and we are capable of holding events,” Lyster said. “But it was the lack of advance notice for an event that would attract the attention at the level this one would that has raised issues for our city.”
“Also,” he continued, “we have concerns about the nature of the event and that is does not reflect the city of Anaheim and the values we share.”
Fliers started circulating last week about an America First rally at Pacific Hills Banquet & Event Center in Laguna Hills on Saturday, July 17. But the center’s general manager, Javad Mirtavoosi, said as soon as they found out who the speakers at the event would be, they canceled it, hoping to stay clear of the controversy surrounding Gaetz and Greene.
After searching for a week for a new venue in Orange County, Greene’s team announced Thursday that they were moving the rally to Riverside. They refused to disclose the location, citing security concerns. But Ted Weggeland, CEO of the company that runs the downtown Riverside Convention Center, told the Southern California News Group that his venue was expecting to host the event.
Multiple organizations announced plans to protest the rally, including Women’s March Action and The League of Women Voters Riverside. And some Riverside city leaders raised concerns, calling for an emergency meeting to discuss the issue.
“The hateful and racist rhetoric that will be perpetrated at this event by these two well-known extremists has absolutely no place in our City,” Riverside City Councilmember Ronaldo Fierro said in an emailed statement late Thursday.
Late Friday, city officials reported they were notified by operators of the convention center that the rally wouldn’t take place in Riverside.
Shortly after 10 p.m., organizers announced the event was slated to be held in Anaheim at the M3 Live Anaheim Event Center on Harbor Boulevard.
“You can’t cancel us, you can’t stop us, we’re going to save America,” Greene said in a tweeted video.
Protestors started organizing to attend the Anaheim event and flooding the venue with negative Yelp reviews, calls and emails.
Anaheim already is accomodating an Angels game, a conservative forum at a local church and a labor rally outside Disneyland on Saturday.
By 10 a.m. Saturday, the city said the operator had pulled out.
Gaetz, who represents a Florida House district, and Greene, who represents one in Georgia, are known for their staunch support of former President Donald Trump, their rejection of COVID-19 safety measures and their false belief that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.
Greene also is known as a conspiracy theorist who has written pro-QAnon articles and reportedly said 9/11 was a government plot and that a California wildfire was the work of a “space solar generator” controlled by a Jewish banking family, among others.
Video clips have surfaced of her espousing racist and Islamophobic views, and a recording showed Greene, who has reportedly claimed the government orchestrated several mass shootings to gin up support for gun control, following and taunting a survivor of the 2017 school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
While Greene has said her past social media posts don’t reflect who she is, 11 House Republicans joined all House Democrats in February in voting to remove Greene from her committee assignments as punishment for her statements.
Gaetz, who has said leftist radicals posing as Trump supporters were responsible for the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, is under investigation for an alleged sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl. He has denied the allegations and said he’s the victim of an extortion plot.
But Gaetz and Greene also have become firebrands for Trump-brand Republicanism. The pair have been co-hosting America First rallies across the country since early May, when they kicked off the series in a Florida retirement community that heavily supported Trump in 2020.
Tickets were to be free to reserve for general admission. But those who registered received an email asking if they wanted to upgrade to VIP status for $250 per person, which was to include the chance to take a photo with Gaetz and Greene plus preferred seating.
Proceeds were to go to the Put America First Joint Fundraising Committee, formed in Georgia in late April to support Gaetz’s and Greene’s reelection campaigns.
Staff writer Jeff Horseman contributed to this report.
Source: Orange County Register