Republican Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz will continue to hold ‘America First’ rallies, despite a series of cancellations that may violate his First Amendment rights.
Gaetz and fellow Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia scheduled ‘America First’ rallies on Saturday, first in Riverside, California, and then in Anaheim. However, both cities cancelled the rallies hours before they were to begin.
Two high-ranking Riverside officials, Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson and Mayor Pro Tempore Gaby Plascencia, cheered the cancellation. All Riverside elected officials are officially non-partisan.
“I recognize this was a divisive issue in our community, and I am glad it has been resolved,” Dawson said. “I commend Raincross Hospitality Corp. for this decision.”
Raincross Hospitality Corp. is the private contractor that operates the Riverside Convention Center, which was scheduled to host the rally.
JUST IN: The “America First” rally with Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz that was scheduled for 6 pm Saturday at the Riverside Convention Center will not take place pic.twitter.com/c6CYfx6pdC
— Ema Sasic (@ema_sasic) July 17, 2021
“I am disappointed we even got to this point, because these speakers are the antithesis of everything Riverside stands for,” Plascencia added.
Gaetz suggested that their comments would be evidence in a First Amendment suit that he and Greene would file.
Gaetz and Greene then attempted to hold their rally at the M3 Live Anaheim Event Center, a private venue that hosts banquets and concerts. That rally was also cancelled.
“The city of Anaheim shared public safety concerns with the operator, and those concerns are shared by the operator,” city spokesman Mike Lyster said.
— City of Anaheim (@City_of_Anaheim) July 17, 2021
“As a city we respect free speech but also have a duty to call out speech that does not accurately represent the city and its values,” he added.
Multiple First Amendment attorneys slammed the comments, saying that they were proof that Anaheim broke the law and discriminated against Gaetz because of his political views.
“The final sentence makes clear that the city of Anaheim has acted improperly. The First Amendment does not allow the authorities to shut down an event, or pressure private venues into doing so, because the event represents the wrong ‘values,'” Cato Institute Senior Fellow Walter Olson tweeted.
The final sentence makes clear that the city of Anaheim has acted improperly. The First Amendment does not allow the authorities to shut down an event, or pressure private venues into doing so, because the event represents the wrong “values.” https://t.co/ZIEvGFLDoM
— Walter Olson (@walterolson) July 19, 2021
“This statement is almost like a law school exam issue spotter of First Amendment red flags,” former Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel and senior editor of The Dispatch David French added.
This statement is almost like a law school exam issue spotter of First Amendment red flags. https://t.co/lEV0vRrWz9
— David French (@DavidAFrench) July 19, 2021
Gaetz will not be deterred from holding future rallies, spokesman Harlan Hill told the Daily Caller.
“Despite the Democrats’ dirty tricks and threats of violence, Rep. Gaetz continues to draw unprecedented large crowds. He thanks the hundreds of California patriots who came out in the face of Antifa’s threats of violence today,” Hill said.
“Rep. Gaetz and Rep. Greene look forward to announcing new stops on the America First tour in the coming weeks.”