Worldcon 76 Response to Protests Planned Outside SJCC on August 18

Opposing rallies will be held outside the San Jose Convention Center on Saturday afternoon, August 18, while the World Science Fiction Convention meets inside. The Worldcon committee has issued a statement that they and the San Jose police are aware of these events, recommending attendees avoid engaging the protestors.

Jon Del Arroz announced in May plans for a “Rally For Freedom And Anti-Discrimination Demonstration At Worldcon 76 San Jose” where he would be joined by Erin Sith, whom he describes as a “civil rights activist with a focus on the 2nd amendment”.

The event now renamed “Predators Out Now! Patriots Rally Against Pedophiles in SciFi” is listed on Facebook as being held in conjunction with the “San Jose National March Against Far-Left Violence”

***this event is partnering with the National March Against Far-Left Violence happening the same day, and the program will include an open mic portion for testimony from people victimized at the Trump Rally two years ago at this location.***

An antifa counter-protest was announced a few days ago on a newly-created website, “Hate Not Welcome in San Jose”, scheduled for the same afternoon at the San Jose Convention Center:

Rally in support of immigrants, refugees, people of color, women, LGBTQ, and all others under attack by Trump’s agenda and his violent supporters

A mob of racists, fascists, neo-Nazis, and bigots are descending on our city to intimidate members of our community and forward their hateful message. These individuals are members of the fascist organization the Proud Boys as well as other groups of violent Trump supporters that are coming to San Jose from out of town. Members of the Proud Boys have been recorded making threats against immigrants at their rallies, including declaring that immigrants heads should be “smashed into concrete.” We are calling for a mass mobilization to send a clear message that their racism and bigotry will not be tolerated here.

Worldcon 76 today advised members how to cope with the “Outside Event Taking Place on Saturday”:

Worldcon 76 in San Jose, the San Jose Police Department, and the McEnery Convention Center Security are aware of the protest and counter protest that are planned to occur on Saturday afternoon adjacent to the convention center plaza. The San Jose Police Department, the center, and Worldcon 76 have discussed how to ensure that these demonstrations do not impact events inside the center.

The best course of action to maximize your safety is to simply avoid engaging either the protestors or the counter protestors. We encourage our members to consider alternate routes and entrances to the convention center that avoid the front plaza on Saturday afternoon. Convention volunteers will be available to assist you in accessing the center through these alternate entrances. As with any other convention, only properly credentialed members will be allowed into our convention spaces.

If you have any questions about this you can email [email protected] or during the convention come by the Ombudsman office in room 112/113 or ask any staffer and they can direct you.

The rally is Jon Del Arroz’ most ambitious effort so far to leverage Worldcon 76 for attention, after being banned from attending and filing a lawsuit against the convention.

He says about Erin Sith:

Erin is also extremely brave by being a member of the trans community speaking out on behalf of Trump. She is the Candace Owens of the trans community and more people need to see her message for equality’s sake.

As Del Arroz sees it, “Antifa is showing up to attack a rally by a Hispanic and a trans woman against pedophilia in fandom. Why are they pro pedophilia and attacking minorities? It’s almost as if the left is a bunch of racist bigots.”

Erin Sith has been involved in violent clashes between alt-right/neo-fascists and Antifa. An article on IndyBay (which misidentifies her by her legal name, Erin Smith) offers this take on the upcoming event:

On August 18, Erin Smith is organizing a rally outside of Worldcon, a science fiction convention. Smith has been known to show up at rallies to livestream and agitate crowds, filming activists to be doxxed later on by right wing internet trolls. Smith also attended the violent far-right rally in Portland on June 30th. She was filmed getting on top of someone who was on the ground, beating them while shouting homophobic

Erin Sith’s Twitter account is here.

Click the link to see footage of Sith beating a protestor in Portland.

Same footage, with better audio of the homophobic slur she was shouting.

A pro-Erin version:

Del Arroz and Sith can be heard discussing the forthcoming rally in a YouTube video released August 9.

Update 08/12/2018: Learned Erin Smith is the person’s legal name, so the IndyBay story was not a “misidentification”.

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90 thoughts on “Worldcon 76 Response to Protests Planned Outside SJCC on August 18

  1. As the bulletin says, just avoid the north entrance doors facing W. San Carlos Street (where this plaza is), and you’ll be able to ignore both the idiocy and the counter-idiocy. Fortunately, those aren’t even the doors most commonly used for access to/from McEnery (except for being the doors closest to the Convention Center light rail stop).

    The loons can shout at each other outside, while inside we have a Worldcon. Win!

  2. No, Rick, think. They aren’t just beaming into the plaza. Ask yourself: How are the participants getting to the plaza? Public transportation? Parking in the convention center? WIll they be arriving and leaving through the same spaces as fans headed to W76?

  3. I see all sides to issues, as a trans person im lost in all this ludicracy that in todays times we are back here again and have seen heard both sides. I and dreamscapesalallworldsunite stands by Worldcon 76 original decision and why it was done. Everyone please be safe. Don’t walk alone always have a partner with you and if you need assistance reach out to the ombudsman or any Flare staff.
    Lady Phoenix

  4. It seems like the counter-protest is aimed at the Patriot Prayer/Proud Boys event, rather than JDA’s little display, but no doubt he’s glomming onto the bigger events/controversy with glee.

  5. Gah

    Missing worldcon now seems less bad…but that is just a personal and selfish point of view.

    I do hope nothing untoward occurs as a result of these rallies.

  6. I am not changing my plans to attend Worldcon because of this tom-foolishness. I figure any fan who behaves courteously and exercises common sense (meaning, steering clear of the announced trouble zone on Saturday afternoon) should have no trouble at the convention.

  7. Geeze, my friend is on a scooter limiting speed, agility and where we can go. This sucks. If we get to the convention center before the rally and just stay there all day, this may work.

    Antifa vs alt-right. ugh.

  8. Hopefully the local PD have a lock on organizing the situation. There are always protests at San Diego Comic-Con (because it’s big and attention grabbing…some years I’ve seen WestBoro, this year it was a smaller group of pro-life guys by the closest hotel). They’re allowed a specific area they have to stay inside, so foot traffic just flows around them.

  9. I hope Jon and Sith enjoy their right to free speech and protest;
    I hope they keep themselves firmly within the bounds of those rights;
    I hope a few loud trolls will be a negligible distraction/distruption;
    And I wish you all a fantastic Worldcon! Wish I could be there 🙂

  10. Greg Hullender: I’m still skeptical that Jon will be able to muster very many people to this protest, but I guess we’ll find out.

    It doesn’t really take very many to make everybody in the vicinity miserable and scared. If people think back to their high school experience they’ll remember this is true.

  11. @Greg Hullender
    I don’t think Jon and Sith will manage to gather that many protesters by themselves, but there is also the general far right march and the counterprotest as well as police officers, possibly with itchy batons and perhaps even trigger fingers. That’s a dangerous mixture.

  12. Linda Robinett on August 12, 2018 at 5:56 am said:

    Geeze, my friend is on a scooter limiting speed, agility and where we can go. This sucks. If we get to the convention center before the rally and just stay there all day, this may work

    There are _lots_ of entrances to the Convention Center, all accessible. I suspect you’ll find that you’re better off going through the Hilton or Marriott hotels anyway on any day, not just that one.

  13. @Mike: Oh, believe me, I am indeed sparing some time for contingency-planning. Fortunately, I know McEnery and its surrounding area extremely well. But also: This is my gathering of friends, my WSFS, in my own metro area. I’m going to enjoy it, and I’m not going to be deterred in any way by loons.

    My prediction is a street-adjacent bunch of posturing by small clots of shouting people for the benefit of the requisite couple of photos for The Federalist, and then endless self-congratulatory I’m-the-real-victim blogging afterwards, and that’s it.

  14. I would definitely check out the counter-protest if I was coming to Worldcon, because I’ve never seen an American demonstration. I hope everyone stays safe and has a wonderful time (except certain demonstrators).

  15. I suspect this will be a flop. The alt-right rally in Berkeley on the 5th was attended by about 20-30 Trump supporters, neo-Nazis, and alt-liters (some of whom disguised themselves to avoid unwanted attention) and about twice that many counterprotesters. The counterprotest march starting a few blocks away consisted of several hundred people, and wasn’t allowed entry into the park where the alt-right rally took place, preventing the two groups from clashing. The day before, in Portland, was a much crazier scene from what I’ve seen and heard, but the Bay Arean alt-right rallies seem to be dying down. It seems like a lot of folk who are conservatives and/or Trump supporters and were conned into thinking these events are about free speech and supporting the President have stopped attending these rallies.

    And I don’t think San Jose is a very tempting target. Berkeley, SF, and Portland are all “liberal strongholds” in the minds of the alt-right, and so make excellent targets for their media posturing, whereas San Jose is a sleepy, conservative city in comparison. Amber Cummings seems to be the main organizer in the Bay Area at this point, and her rallies fizzle when she sticks with her anti-communist (and after Tommy Robinson’s case, her disingenuous “anti-pedophile” message) and fails to attract white supremacist groups like the Identity Europa, the Proud Boys, American Guard, etc..

    I hope it fizzles into nothing and JDA can declare another humiliating victory/victimization for his followers to beat their chests to.

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  17. If any Filer’s actually worried about street/sidewalk safety — which, based on long experience walking around downtown San Jose, including during political protests in Plaza de César Chavéz in front of the Fairmont, I consider fortunately unrealistic — I’ll be glad to walk along to your destination. I did so briefly during Sasquan, and am glad to again. (As JJ says, I’m tall and solidly built enough to serve as a deterrent.)

    And, in the unlikely event of being accosted by a bothersome person, you might do as I do, and say ‘Jeg beklager, men jeg snakker ikke engelsk.’ (Or, better yet, confuse them utterly by saying it in local vernacular: ‘I’m sorry, but I don’t speak any English.’)

  18. Rick Moen suggested

    And, in the unlikely event of being accosted by a bothersome person, you might do as I do, and say ‘Jeg beklager, men jeg snakker ikke engelsk.’ (Or, better yet, confuse them utterly by saying it in local vernacular: ‘I’m sorry, but I don’t speak any English.’)

    I’m not sure speaking a foreign language to a bunch of isolationist, America-first racists is the safest action.

  19. Translation: Arroz can’t get more than a handful (if that) people to come and protest with him, so he’s found another event going on that he’s going to hang around the fringes of. Then he’ll claim that they were all there to support him and his cause (whatever that is now).

    They’ll be there (if anyone actually does show up) for a few hours at most, when it will be too hot to be moving around in the sun anyway. If you can’t avoid them, do your best to ignore them – engaging will only stir them up. And reasoning with them is impossible.

  20. @Robert L. Rede:

    I’m not sure speaking a foreign language to a bunch of isolationist, America-first racists is the safest action.

    I’ll freely confess, I don’t always take the safest action. Besides, as the son of immigrants, I’d be totally OK with such persons being upset at a Norwegian-American (and Sons of Norway lodge president) for speaking Norwegian. It might brighten my day, even. Hey, I might even throw in ‘Nei, du forlater landet mitt, vær så snill.’ (No, you leave my country, if you please.)

    ETA: @Cora, bless you, good friend: It was indeed in the Germanic family, but not Yiddish.

  21. I swear by a free phone app called Citizen that monitors police/ambulance/fire dispatch and lets you know when something you may wish to avoid is happening nearby. It’ll also let you stream video if you find yourself in the middle of a situation, so that hopefully others will come assist you.

  22. There are ways around this stupidity that are accessible by all. Worldcon attendees will be informed.

    The cops will keep both sides bottled up in the plaza (away from the doors), and the whole thing’s likely to be over by the time we have to leave the convention center to go party. It is going to be HOT out there and since both sides are probably going to be in black — you do the temperature math. Not Phoenix Anvil of God or El Paso Anvil of a Lesser God (for you old timers) hot, but not pleasant.

    The rally last weekend in Berkeley fizzled out before 3 PM (I know b/c I happened to be in downtown then and had no idea it had happened till told afterwards). Just like @kathodus said. And Berkeley is a place where they know protests.

    Jonny D best be careful; the RWNJ are going to take one look at his Hispanicity and his violent friend’s trans-ness and not stop to ask their politics. And they do not give a rat’s ass about science fiction. The words hoist and petard come to mind, especially since this isn’t even his protest! He’s just trying to glom onto the one he had scheduled with all 2 of his friends (As @Lin McAllister and @Mark-kitteh said). Antifa or the Proud Boys will have had no idea he’d planned to stand out there whining, and also won’t care.

    Either that or antifa will recognize his co-conspirator and that won’t be pleasant either. Might get it from all sides. Also, did we mention cops? Cops who won’t be thrilled to be working on a summer Saturday? They’ve learned not to shoot in these parts, so that’s not a worry. Mostly the cops will be mildly annoyed that they have to put on all their heavy gear and turn out for a few chuckleheads on both sides. But at least they’ll get overtime for it.

    Walk around them, do not engage with either side or the cops, and it’ll be nada.

    Tall Kevin and Evil Kevin speak the truth: the entry/exit closest to this foolishness is the one you’ll be using the least all weekend anyway.

    You’d think the racist scum would be protesting in the park near the statue of Quetzalcoatl. That’s where they used to gather, what with Quetzy being Mexican and all. (Back in my day, the racists had more smarts and taste!)

    For those who’ve never seen a protest, there’ll be plenty of spaces indoors you can watch from, perfectly safely. I plan to go to con programming myself; much more interesting. I’m mostly annoyed about out of town agitators of any persuasion coming in — stay in your own area, naughty people!

  23. @Rick Moen

    While I too enjoy tweaking noses and starting fires, please work hard to control this impulse. The absolute worst thing you can do them is to ignore them entirely. Don’t even look if for some reason you are out on the streets.

    Groups like this feed on negative attention. Starve them.

  24. Also, I see that today’s Unite the Right Rally in Washington D.C. was a total fizzle. About 30 people facing over a thousand counter-protestors. I’ve seen those odds when the Phelps family came to protest Randy Shilts’ memorial and found about a thousand San Franciscans waiting for them.

  25. @Douglas Berry: You are of course quite right, and I have much, much better things to do than to tangle with lunatics. I fully intend to spend my time and energy on the Worldcon, instead. But, if they go out of their way to tangle with me, I might dispose of them in some creative fashion.

    Just to reassure, going berserker has been quite unfashionable among us Scandihoovians for about a millennium, in round figures. Instead, we mostly make elegant wood furniture, write crime fiction, drink really strong coffee, and make depressing cinema.

  26. MODERATOR’S WARNING: I’m not interested in hosting people’s fantasies about violence that they may do or think they might see done.

    I’ll be deleting anything in that vein.

  27. Just to clarify: My phrase ‘dispose of them’ did not in any way contemplate violence, but at most a cutting yet opaque retort and then efficiently being elsewhere and doing dramatically more interesting things.

  28. I don’t intend to allow this to interfere with my convention in any way.

    I tried watching the lunchtime video (so you all don’t have to), but couldn’t deal with the blatant BS for more than about a third of it.

    Summary of what I saw:

    4 or 5 speakers scheduled, still planning
    definitely implying that the JDA protest is part of the larger right wing protest going on.
    His protest is against pedophilia in science fiction. The larger one was identified as being a protest against discrimination of conservatives
    During an early deragatory discussion of the programming (and hinting that leaving your kids with child care at the con migt nit be a good idea), Sith remarked that she (paraphrase from memory) “might have to check out” a particular panel, suggesting that she might be attending the con. Others associated may be as well, and welcome, have a good time, now we know.
    Discussion of earlier protests including being fearful for their lives.
    Litany of the names they usually raise discussing “pedophilia in science fiction”

    As I said, I don’t intend to let this affect my event in any way. However, a couple of things attendees might want to think about.

    Use the entrances not near the protest
    You might want to remove your badge, although you might be carrying identifying swag which almost makes that moot
    If you are out and about while this thing is going on and the hairs on the back of your neck go up, heed them
    Go out in groups
    ask formassistance if you thnk you need it

  29. @steve davidson: Concur.

    This is a small group of no-hoper trolls desperately seeking force-multiplication via tactical annoyance of large groups of other people, to compensate for the fact that they’re a tiny group of idiots, and that nobody wants to squander time on them. For those of us who are Usenet veterans, this annoyance pattern is nothing new, and the remedy’s frankly pretty obvious.

  30. @Rick Moen
    Oops, my mistake. The line did have the “looks like Low German, but isn’t” vibe that I usually get from Yiddish. “snakken” is also Low German for “talk”.

    Good to hear that San José police isn’t too trigger happy, cause sadly that’s always a concern in the US.

    BTW, are water cannons and tear gas a thing at protests in the US? Cause that’s always a concern with certain types of protests in Germany.

  31. I already have my WorldCon planned. PTO put in. Panels scheduled. It sucks this has to happen at my first WorldCon, but I will just ignore these morons and carry on.

  32. @Cora Yes, water cannons and tear gas can be used at protests in the US, but only at huge ones. I don’t think this will reach 1% the size of the only protest where I ever saw such things used. The police may even outnumber the protesters.

    I’ve participated in a number of Bay Area protests and even organized one. It was all 25+ years ago, but I suspect some things don’t change. So, as others have said, it’s rather hard to hold a successful protest in San Jose, and it’s hard to get the press to cover one. People should be prudent (e.g. don’t antagonize the protesters) but, really, I don’t think there’s going to be anything to worry about.

    It expect this will be a curiosity, not a big deal.

  33. @Cora: Hmm, interesting. I do now see those markers that made you think of Plattdeutsch. Curiously, linguists say Yiddish resembles mediaeval Bavarian more than anything else — though there is dispute.

    (FWIW, when spoken, what I wrote is so sing-song as to be unmistakably north of the Baltic.)

  34. Rick, as an aside:

    Hey, I might even throw in ‘Nei, du forlater landet mitt, vær så snill.’ (No, you leave my country, if you please

    I’m not sure what verb form you’re trying to use, but that sentence doesn’t really make grammatic sense in that context. And no self-respecting Norwegian would use “vær så snill” in that situation.

    I would suggest a simple “dra til helvete”, or perhaps “ryk og reis” if you want to avoid profanity. (That’s “go to hell” and “get lost”, respectively.)

  35. @Johan P: Well, that’s me corrected, then.

    Sorry, I’m only picking up the language, and I’m not surprised that I’m still committing barbarisms. (Dad was from Kristiansund. I’m from Palo Alto.)

    I doubly appreciate the help with almost-profanities, as my teacher, a nice elderly friend from Trondheim, would not be any help at all with that.

  36. *snort* If the vast majority of attendees even notice there’s a “protest” I’d be rather surprised. It’s easy to sound imposing online, but standing in the heat and hoping like hell someone else shows up so you don’t look stupid is another matter.

    (Hey Mike, did you tinker with the comment settings recently? Nothing autopopulates any more, and every time I comment I get an email asking if I meant to subscribe to the thread.)

  37. RedWombat: There are plugins and programs that update from time to time, and I let those install. On the other hand, I haven’t knowingly done anything that would have that result.

  38. The comment plugin is wonky for me too.

    That’s right! It’s the Pixel Pixel Scroll Scroll Song!

  39. Let’s host a WorldCon, people in San Jose said.
    It’ll be fun, they said.
    What could possibly go wrong? they said.

  40. I have been to many conventions and events in the SJCC. Very nice place. Very accessible. Use the west entrance or through the Marriott or Hilton, esp if in a wheelchair. No steps or ramps IIRC.

    There are two fantastic hands-on science museums within easy walking distance. Focused more on young kids, walk west on Woz Way where it bends to the north. Children’s Discovery Museum

    The second is the The Tech Museum of Innovation for older kids and adults. I think they are part of the Museum Mafia – so if you are a member of another museum, give them a call to see if your membership will get you in for free.

    As far as the idiots: personally I think a crowd just pointing and laughing loud and long would be the best. They cannot handle being mocked.

  41. @bandit: What you said. Actually, throughout the many (mostly technology) events I’ve attended at McEnery, I cannot recall ever finding it convenient to use the plaza entrance outside which Mr. Del Arroz and his approximately four friends plan to carry on during a hot August afternoon, videotaping each other making speeches and claiming to be oppressed. (By contrast, the NoHateSJ lot, whoever they are, might muster at least enough people for a bridge tournament.) The two side entrances, the hotel interior doors, and the parking garage always end up being just more useful.

    I doubt there will be anything worth seeing, let alone stopping and pointing at. I figure the membership’ll be rather too busy attending the convention. I certainly will.

    @Greg Hullender: I actually listened to that whiney loser’s entire almost-hour-long Google Hangout session, while I was cooking. Same dumb posturing as usual (I kept waiting for the bit about him having a list of over 200 known Communists in the State Department), but I note that, as one amusing tidbit (somewhere around minute 40), Del Arroz says he intends to walk into Worldcon 76 despite his banning, to buy a ‘ticket’. Uh-huh. That figures.

  42. I remember when the Westboro Baptist Church protested at the San Diego Con.

    There were about four or five of them, with signs. They had to stand across the street. They looked sweaty and miserable. They were no disruption whatsoever.

    I’m not going to be at Worldcon, but the esteemed protest organizer here has to buy Twitter followers. I wouldn’t think he’ll raise much of a fuss.

    The other protests in the area, maybe — but then, Unite the Right 2 apparently only managed a couple of dozen people in Washington DC today. So go figure.

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