Turd Reich: San Francisco Dog Owners Lay Minefield of Poo for Right Wing
When a group of far-right activists come to San Francisco to hold a rally this Saturday, they will be met by peace activists offering them flowers to wear in their hair.
Also, dog shit. Lots and lots of dog shit.
Hundreds of San Franciscans plan to prepare Crissy Field, the picturesque beach in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge where rightwing protest group Patriot Prayer will gather, with a generous carpeting of excrement.
“I just had this image of alt-right people stomping around in the poop,” Tuffy Tuffington said of the epiphany he had while walking Bob and Chuck, his two Patterdale terriers, and trying to think of the best way to respond to rightwing extremists in the wake of Charlottesville. “It seemed like a little bit of civil disobedience where we didn’t have to engage with them face to face.”
Tuffington, a 45-year-old artist and designer, created a Facebook event page based on the concept, and the dog owners of San Francisco responded in droves. Many have declared their intention to stockpile their shitpiles for days in advance, then deliver them in bags for the site. (The group is also planning to reconvene on Sunday to “clean up the mess and hug each other”.)
The presence of Patriot Prayer, whose “free speech” events in the Pacific north-west have frequently sparked violent street battles, in notoriously liberal San Francisco has city authorities on edge. Elected officials unsuccessfully pressured the National Park Service to deny the group a permit, and the police department is planning to deploy every available officer.
But for many San Franciscans, an unwelcome visit from members of the “alt-right” is an opportunity to fight back in the spirit of the city by the bay – with flower power, drag queens, a little creativity, and an assist from the animal kingdom.
Shannon Bolt, a behavior scientist who works at Crissy Field, intends to confront Patriot Prayer in the spirit of the Summer of Love. “As white supremacists and neo-Nazis gather in our midst, we’ll tune into the love frequency again and meet their hatred with flowers for their hair,” she wrote in a Facebook event description.
If security forces keep the protest and counter-protest separate, Bolt told the Guardian, “We will have to offer our Flowers Against Fascism to them symbolically.”
There will also be contingents of clowns, kayakers, cars, and kids – all hoping to use their particular strengths (humor, seaworthiness, the ability to monopolize parking spaces, and cuteness, respectively) to thumb their noses at hate.
“You have a significant number of people who would like to go and punch Nazis, and then you have people who think they should be entirely ignored,” said veteran labor and LGBTQ rights activist Cleve Jones. “In between you have all sorts of creative and crazy ideas. I kind of like that.”
Jones is working with local drag queen Juanita More to host a rally and march for equality beginning at Harvey Milk Plaza in the city’s Castro district. “There’s this desire to create fear,” he said of media coverage showing torch-wielding racists spewing hateful chants. “With these kinds of creative actions, we dispel fear. We say we’re going to fight you and we’re going to have a ball doing it and we’re going to laugh and love each other.”
Jones is also taking inspiration from the German town of Wunsiedel, where residents have responded to an annual neo-Nazi march by sponsoring an “involuntary walkathon” that raises funds for anti-extremist causes.
He is raising money for ten local organizations that reflect the diversity of San Francisco, including the Transgender Law Center, Disability Rights and Education Defense Fund, and Muslim Advocates. A similar Wunsiedel-inspired effort has been launched by Jewish Bar Association of San Francisco, which has raised more than $100,000 for the Southern Poverty Law Center under the banner “Adopt-a-Nazi”.
“When the dust has settled and the smoke has cleared,” Jones said, “I hope that the appearance of rightwing extremists in San Francisco will raise a significant amount of money for the people they seek to harm.”
- Update: This article has been amended to add that the dog poop protesters’ plan to clean up after themselves.