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Society

Conservatives Staging Free Speech Rally Attacked by Critics

October 18, 2020

SAN FRANCISCO — A free speech demonstration staged by conservative activists quickly fell apart in downtown San Francisco on Saturday after several hundred counterprotesters surged the area, outnumbering and attacking those gathered, including knocking one in the mouth.

A photographer working for The Associated Press witnessed a Trump supporter being taken away in an ambulance and an injured San Francisco police officer on the ground by San Francisco's United Nations Plaza. 

Team Save America organized the rally to protest Twitter, which it said squelches conservative speech. Members of the group wore red "Make America Great Again" Trump campaign hats and carried pro-police "Thin Blue Line" flags and U.S. flags. 

Philip Anderson, the organizer of the event, posted photos to social media of his bloody mouth with a front tooth missing and another hanging loosely. He said anti-fascist protesters attacked him "for no reason."

Anderson took the stage at about 1 p.m. and was greeted by chants and plastic water bottles and glass bottles thrown over police barricades.

The event was canceled, although both sides lingered in the area into the afternoon. 

The San Francisco Police Department said three officers suffered non life-threatening injuries when they were assaulted with pepper spray and caustic chemicals. One officer was taken to a local hospital for treatment, the department said. 

No arrests were made, the department said. 

Anderson called the counterprotesters hypocrites and said they are the reason why he's voting for President Donald Trump. 

"I love America, I love this country and I love free speech," he said. 

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