Alt-Right Rally Outside Worldcon 76 Draws About 40

Stock photo of SJCC plaza.

Erin Sith and some other alt-right Bay Area figures carried on the National March Against Far-Left Violence outside the San Jose Convention Center on Saturday while Worldcon 76 continued inside. In the absence of Jon Del Arroz, who announced yesterday he wouldn’t be at the rally he had instigated due to reasons of family health, it was not apparent whether any of his “anti-pedophilia in sf” agenda was carried out, other than as a sign someone was holding.

Around 12:15 p.m. the first San Jose police officer arrived on sidewalk in front of the SJCC plaza. At 12:30 p.m., when the protestors were scheduled for set-up, a small knot of people, four of them wearing red MAGA hats, walked onto sidewalk beside the plaza (which is also a bus stop), and the cop went and stood next to them.

Although Worldcon members with badges had been crossing the plaza into the Convention Center freely up to that point, security now began controlling the doorways to the plaza, permitting traffic through only one side. And they would not allow to leave the building someone who came downstairs from the main convention area dressed as Ronald McDonald and holding a large sign painted as a Hustler magazine cover with an image of President Trump. However, the clown made his way out another exit and shortly reappeared, displaying himself to the protestors on the sidewalk.

A few minutes later a woman carrying a large image of a UFO alien head (couldn’t tell if it was a sign or simply an exotic purse) walked into the plaza and stood apart watching the proceedings.

Another half-dozen San Jose police arrived shortly before the official starting time of the protest at 1 p.m., plus two motorcycle cops. More protestors began moving up and down the sidewalk, two with Trump banners, one blue, one white, someone in a wheelchair with a big American flag, and a person bearing what looked like a green version of a German military flag except with an unidentifiable image in the center (rather than a Maltese cross or swastika).

That was also when Worldcon members who had volunteered as Pink Shirts came on duty, offering to escort people entering the SJCC.

There was a good vantage point on the second floor of the SJCC for seeing the plaza through several big windows, and that’s where I kept an eye on events, joined at various times by ULTRAGOTHA, Amy Thomson, Kevin Standlee, Marc Schirmeister, Tom Becker and others. I also had a chance to say hello to Alasdair Stuart, who served as one of the pink shirts.

As one might have expected, the rally was one big photo op. Even though there were not very many alt-right protestors at the outset, there were eight or ten people holding up smart phones and a camera to capture video of anything that happened.

More police arrived, and took up positions at intervals along the plaza at the edge of the sidewalk, keeping the action off the SJCC plaza itself.

At this point we’d seen perhaps 10 protestors, counting the flag and banner holders and the four in MAGA hats. There was another infusion of police – at one point, we counted 22 officers in view.

Then, at 2:00 p.m., some more people, a few in MAGA hats, filed down the sidewalk to a spot where police were allowing them to set up on a bank of steps under the eaves of the SJCC just past the plaza. Erin Sith in a pink hat emceed a series of alt-right speakers. The full size of the gathering seemed to be about 40 people, who could be seen energetically applauding after each speaker turned over the mic.

An antifa counter-protest had been called, and some of the video/photography was being done by their people. However, from my vantage I never saw a definable group of antifa protestors, although it was clear that the police were trying to funnel participants in each rally to opposite sides of the plaza. I can’t estimate how many there were. Perhaps more video will come online later with those views.

ULTRAGOTHA shot these photos through the windows:

Another fan sent these, on the suggestion of one of the pink-shirt volunteers:

A side-effect of the rallies was that the alt-right group blocked access to the bloodmobile supporting the traditional Worldcon blood drive:

Bloodmobile is in the background of this photo:

Video of the event shot by Ryoga Vee is on YouTube. Between many closeups of him chewing gum there are shots of the alt-right rally participants, and the police moving them away from the San Jose Convention Center when their time expired around 4 p.m.

Berkeley Antifa tweeted close-up photos and its identifications of speakers at Erin Sith’s rally. The thread starts here .

53 thoughts on “Alt-Right Rally Outside Worldcon 76 Draws About 40

  1. That was both the silliest and saddest protest I’ve ever seen. There was hundre-dozens of protestors.

    Wow. I guess JDA sure showed WorldCon. ?

  2. That was both the silliest and saddest protest I’ve ever seen. There was thousan- no wait, hundre-
    I mean a few protestors.

    Wow. I guess JDA sure showed WorldCon. ?

  3. Apart from his co-organiser, I don’t see any signs that anyone turned up for JDA’s element of the protest at all, rather than the so-called anti-violence protest.

  4. Alt-Right Rally Outside Worldcon 76

    A bizarre, oxymoronic scene out of an alternate universe.

  5. So after all that tiresome, whiny, self-aggrandizing JDA build-up to yesterday, the result was a “rally” too small to fill my living room, comprised of people who… apparently oppose donating blood?

    I am devastated to have missed it.

  6. Now I wish (amongst other reasons) I could have come to Worldcon this year…just to completely and photographically document this. Kudos to Ultragotha for the shots here.

  7. I realize I am a Pollyanna (a self-made one, I might add). I still hope Del Arroz looked into the abyss of what he had done and, when the abyss looked back, blinked, took his kid, left the scene, and decided he must change his life. As an old friend says, “Believe in miracles, but don’t count on them.”

  8. @John A. Arkansawyer–I do honestly think that it’s far more likely that his kid was having difficulty with the air quality at home due to the fires (closer to his home than to the convention), and he decided his kid was more important than the rally. I seriously doubt it has changed his views on anything.

    Not breathing is scary. Watching your kid have real difficulty breathing may be even scarier.

  9. I have a hard time understanding why someone who appears to be anti-diversity (and is protesting for it, paradoxically) would be interested in science fiction or fantasy in the first place. Star Trek and many other SF universes, for instance, are based on diversity, and LOTR wouldn’t have succeeded as an epic without cooperation and diversity.

    As far as the “pedophilia” accusation by Del Arroz, SF conventions are hardly hotbeds of deviant sexual behavior. I’ve been attending SF and Fantasy since 1973, and I’ve never seen or experienced ANY instance of children being preyed upon. SF conventions, starting with Bjo Trimble’s Equicon conventions, and moving on to internationally diverse Worldcons, have always been family friendly and protective of children.

    SF conventions are highly public and very interactive events. Pedophiles, however, generally seek out jobs or circumstances where they can get a child alone. No one is alone at an SF convention.

    I suspect that Arroz chose to use the “pedophilia” meme merely to stir up emotion among the public. I can see that it didn’t work terribly well.

    Arroz claimed that Worldcon was anti-Hispanic. Yet, there were many Hispanic authors and attendees. That meme didn’t work out, either. It seems he’s looking for something to get angry about, and that it’s all about attention.

  10. @Lis Carey: Probably true. I’m totally with you on not doubting his word that air quality is his conscious reason. But a real zealot–I’ve known some–would be likely to stay and put his kid at risk. Plus he’s privately heard who knows what from his erstwhile allies. As bad as his schtick is, they’re distinctly worse. Maybe meeting actual thugs is a wake-up call.

    And maybe he’ll just keep on truckin’ down the road to perdition. Probably the latter. But it’d be better if he didn’t.

  11. Not breathing is scary. Watching your kid have real difficulty breathing may be even scarier.

    Agreed. I can have a very, very low opinion of JDA and still accept that he appropriately puts his child’s health and well-being ahead of his own attention-seeking antics.

  12. @Carl Coling: Flinging pedophilia accusations is a huge thing in US right-wing circles right now. Pizzagate, the “Tuscon rape camp”, etc.

    The people del Arroz is trying to emulate started flinging the accusations at Worldcon members because of Moira Greyland’s piece that they cheated onto the Hugo ballot. The thinking goes that if Hugo voters didn’t give Greyland a Hugo, we must approve of the abuse she suffered.

    He’s still playing an old shtick while the audience has moved on.

  13. Not that it matters, but I was the ‘pink-shirt volunteer’ who suggested a fan who said he intended to take photos of the protest also send them to Mike G. (Over the afternoon, I ended up having brief conversations with a number of such folk.)

    @Rail: Probably more inspired by the subsequent 2016 Castalia House innuendo piece by one Daniel Eness.

  14. There were way more cops than Trumpers. Everybody looked bored, except the convention center staff, who all seemed rather embarrassed they had to tell us to use a different door.

    Meh. We got three times that at the anti-ICE rally in my home town, population 3000, and we had better signs.

  15. @Red Wombat
    Yeah, just recycling Trump for President banners from 2016 is pretty lame, but then “pretty lame” is an apt term to describe this whole protest.

  16. Hey, Cora, some of us disabled folks are asking people to think about finding an alternative to “lame” when you mean “inadequate” or the like. Unfortunately it’s really common to use disability words metaphorically, and the feeling among many is that it damages people’s perceptions of actual (in this case) lame people.

    You are free, of course, to disagree! Many people don’t see it. But I’ve come round to agreeing that it would be better to use something else, and I wanted to pass on the food for thought.

  17. @Rick Moen: Kudos to you and the rest of the pink shirts. It reminds me of the escort service (jokes officially made at the time, don’t worry) my co-ed service fraternity did in college. We walked people home who were out late (e.g., studying or whatever) and didn’t want to walk alone through the usually-deserted and sometimes-ill-lit paths back to their dorms. Good services to do for those who want them.

    @Cora Buhlert & @Lenore Jones: I suggest “pathetic” in this case, since that whole “rally” (is it really a “rally” if you have speakers but almost no actual ralliers?! [sp]) sounds horribly pathetic. I mean, wonderfully pathetic. 😛

    Here’s hoping this is the last “protest”/”rally” near a Worldcon, ever.

  18. Man, does anyone else have trouble making it through more than a couple minutes of live streamed “reporting?” Feels like for every 2 hours of footage you could edit it down to about 5 minutes of useful information.

  19. @RedWombat

    Meh. We got three times that at the anti-ICE rally in my home town, population 3000, and we had better signs.

    The anti-ICE rallies out here in the Bay Area are the same. There were over a thousand people at a protest at a detention center in the outskirts of Richmond (California) alone. I’m not a fan of these alt-right/fashy vs. decent human beings/antifa protests, though I can see why people feel compelled to show up to counter-protest, given recent history.

  20. Kathodus said: Man, does anyone else have trouble making it through more than a couple minutes of live streamed “reporting?

    Me, too. I was interested at first but after awhile lost it.
    One thing it did do was re-enforce my belief that the Antifa people really really need to stop appearing at anything and everything. It only feeds those morons and adds to their public profile, so to speak. And after a while, you just look so desperate for something to protest you’d appear at the opening of an envelope. Pick your battles kids.

  21. @Lenore Jones
    Sorry, my bad. Kendall’s suggestion of pathetic is much better.

    These livestream videos have the tendency to be really, really dull (also see the JDA gets politely asked to leave WorldCon vid), because the signal to noise ratio is very high.

    The video from the journalism student starts getting interesting at around the 20/21 minute mark, when she talks to WorldCon staff and then later, when she talks to the alt-right protesters.

  22. As someone who attended as a counterprotester, it’s depressing to see Worldcon attendees who are diminishing the rallies as if they are unimportant. Maybe counterprotesting is not the best tactic, but these people show up everywhere and their outreach is still shockingly effective. I think a lot of people are pinning their hopes on the midterms, but we have more tools than just voting. I have additional photos I’ve not published from the street side if you want them. Thanks for trying to cover this. I think the only other coverage came from the local Fox News.

  23. @Lis Carey —

    I do honestly think that it’s far more likely that his kid was having difficulty with the air quality at home due to the fires (closer to his home than to the convention), and he decided his kid was more important than the rally.

    Here’s something that nobody seems to have mentioned yet —

    I’m all for protecting one’s kids. OTOH, Jon is not a single parent — he apparently has a living and competent wife, as I understand it (somebody please correct me if I’m mistaken here). Given that fact, why was it impossible for her to take the child to a more healthy area temporarily, while Jon stayed to fulfill his quite vociferously and publicly stated obligations to his own protest?

    Things that make ya go hmmmmm.

  24. @ Lenore Jones:
    Good point about offending the handicapped. Instead of “lame,” why not coin a phrase here. Let’s say instead “That’s really zed.” It sounds like sad and is the very end of the alphabet, so it’s like a sad end.

    Kudos to the convention staff for the pink shirts, and for all the police who were there.

  25. @Carl Coling: the neofascists are not protesting all SF, just the huge fraction that has outgrown their tiny minds. Lots of writers at least into the 1960’s, and occasional ones since then, have written works that amount to “Well, X, Y, and Z are all very well in their subordinate places, but white males will still do all the significant deeds. During Puppygate, the protestors were even claiming that the rest of us didn’t like what we were nominating and voting for, but were supporting it solely for SJW reasons — sort of a variation on the Silent Majority claims of Nixon/Agnew et al.

    My thanks to all the pink shirts who helped keep attendees from getting hassled; even if I’d been there I couldn’t have done it — I don’t have the temperament.

  26. @B

    I think people are mostly judging by comparison to the big claims made for this rally. There are multiple tools available for opposing these people. Counter-protesting is one of them, mockery of their pathetic turnout is another.

  27. I made a point of thanking a pink shirt for being there, even though I myself had no need of assistance.

  28. @Rick Moen: Greyland is the one they kept bringing up long after the Hugo ceremony. I had frankly forgotten about the Eness until I looked up Camestros’ post on Greyland.

    @B: IMO, saying that the counterprotesters shouldn’t show up is just another iteration of “if you ignore the bully, they’ll leave you alone”. It has never worked. Show up and outnumber them enough to make them look ridiculous.

  29. @Rail —

    Show up and outnumber them enough to make them look ridiculous.

    So much this.

    When the white supremacists came to Tennessee, they intended to protest at both Shelbyville and Murfreesboro. We outnumbered them so badly in Shelbyville that only a couple of dozen dared to show their faces in Murfreesboro (there were at least 1000 counter-protesters at the Murf. site compared to their twenty or so) — the rest ran home (mostly to other states, incidentally) with their tails between their legs.

    We absolutely can not let them go unanswered.

  30. @Chip Hitchcock:
    More things in Heaven and Earth, eh? (W. Shakespeare)

    These “protests” don’t seem like protests, but rather private rants against “perceived” injustices. That, and the willful ignorance proudly displayed seem paradoxical to anything positive.

  31. @Chip Hitchcock
    They’re still claiming that we don’t nominate what we like and don’t even read what we nominate. Just had a go-around with Phantom about that on Lela Buis’ blog.

    We were dismissing the alt-right rally as pathetic, not the counterprotest. In fact, I think the counterprotests are extremely important to show these neofascist types that they are a minority and that the majority does not agree with them.

    BTW, in the video footage I noticed that several counterprotesters had covered their faces with bandanas. Is this legal in the US? Because in Germany and Austria it is very much not legal to cover your face during a protest.

  32. @Cora – they’re working on criminalizing masks at protests. Doxxed Nazis get fired ( hopefully). Doxxed Antifa get harassed, threatened, possibly SWATted. Of course the legislator is focusing on putting leftists behind bars.

    Another argument for attending these rallies – the fash rely on all witnesses being counter protesters who they can call liars. They pretend to be merely conservatives, or Trump supporters, or Free Speech activists, but they chant Nazi slogans (ironically?) during their “innocent” protests.

  33. @Cora —

    BTW, in the video footage I noticed that several counterprotesters had covered their faces with bandanas. Is this legal in the US? Because in Germany and Austria it is very much not legal to cover your face during a protest.

    Both legality and enforcement are pretty localized in the US — such laws can vary not only by state but by county and city.

    Relatedly, at the Shelbyville protest last October, the police very carefully screened counterprotesters for any weapons, masks, helmets, or shields (we had to go through TWO searches before being allowed in the protest area) — yet many of the white supremacists right there on the protest line had shields and helmets in clear view. So enforcement can be very biased regardless of actual laws.

  34. what looked like a green version of a German military flag except with an unidentifiable image in the center (rather than a Maltese cross or swastika).

    Probably the flag of “Kekistan,” a 4chan meme that is exceedingly popular among the alt-right and white supremacist crowd(s).

  35. Now that we’ve had a nice healthy round of self-serving mutual back-patting over what a failure the alt-right clowns pulled off, is no one at all concerned that the Retro Hugo for Best Fan Writer went to someone who’s been credibly accused of sexual harassment (if not outright assault) and pedophilic behavior. Just because the alt-right has latched onto the issue in the wake of the Anthony Weiner disgrace doesn’t mean it’s not a legitimate subject of concern.

  36. @Kathodus @Contrarius
    Over here, banning masks and other face coverings at protests was originally aimed at leftwing protesters at anti-nuclear and anti-war protests in the 1970s and 1980s, though it applies to all protests, including Neo-Nazi or Pegida marches and also coincidentally to football fans. The reasoing behind the law is that if protesters cover their faces, it makes identifying them difficult to impossible, if a protest turns into a riot and crimes are committed. The penalties are pretty stiff, too – even carrying e.g. a skimask without wearing it is illegal. Though e.g. it’s allowed to wear masks during carnival parades.

    As always, enforcement varies from state to state and city to city. In general, the mask ban is far more likely to be enforced at an anti-nuclear power or anti-G20 rally than at a senior citizens’ protest for higher pensions.

    Coincidentally, there have been court cases where participants at peaceful anti-Nazi protests pointed out that they covered their faces not to confound the police, but to protect themselves from doxxing and harrassment. In one case, the court decided in favour of the defendant, in another it decided against them. And of course, it’s total coincidence that the latter court case happened in a city infamous for weekly far right protests, a city where the police was unable to locate two (unmasked) rightwing protesters who carried signs with death threats against Angela Merkel and the then Secretary of Economics Sigmar Gabriel

  37. @Cora – Sadly, police in the US have an easily observable bias toward fascists. But then, authorities tend to prefer authoritarians over anti-authoritarians.

  38. @Cora, no worries. And I like “pathetic”, too, though Carl Coling’s “zed” suggestion is intriguing. It might work better in the UK than the US, where we say “zee” for the end of the alphabet. (I forget where the other English-speaking countries fall on this one.)

  39. @Cora

    In the US, anti-mask laws in the US originated with fighting the Klan. FWIW.

    This tagline deleted due to lack of interest.

  40. It seems like there’s a combination of “kitten burning syndrome” and bad faith desire to have something to attack “SJWs” with behind this whole “pedos under every rock” thing the right seems to be experiencing. Meanwhile I don’t see them turning out en masse to demand accountability from the Catholic Church.

  41. I am willing to believe Jon’s kid actually was sick; I’m not willing to believe that’s the only reason he didn’t show up and continue his fail train. Was the kid on the party boat with him for the nice fresh air? Or was the wife stuck with the sick kid while he was ignoring his own teensy tiny protest and boating by himself?

    Jon-boy, he’s an ideas man. Not good ones, and not with the follow-through.

    MAGA hats and Kek flags were never going to go over in San Jose (SF or not), so all they managed to do was look pathetic (“Is that them? That’s it? There’s more cops. I don’t see any antifa at all. Me neither. Why are the fascists blocking the bloodmobile — they don’t like Obamacare or bloodmobiles either?”).

    Most people were too busy having fun. I was in panels or autograph lines most of the day, with some shopping and then partying and then different partying. But I was staying in one of the attached hotels and all the outdoor activity was long gone before I left the area.

    Most people had also quite literally forgotten about it or never heard.

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