Republican Reps. Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene hoped the third time might be the charm for finding a California venue to host their “America First” rally on Saturday night. But instead of speaking to a packed arena, the pair were left with the sidewalk outside the Riverside City Hall.
Greene used the “Peaceful Protest Against Communism” to hawk vaccine hesitancy. She urged the crowd, “Don’t let them force your kids to wear masks at school. Don’t let your kids be forced to take a vaccine that’s not FDA approved.” Meanwhile, coronavirus cases in California are surging as the more contagious Delta variant rips through the unvaccinated population.
Gaetz, who is currently under federal investigation for sex trafficking and abuse of a minor, railed against “the corrupt forces in the Department of Justice and the FBI” and complained that the private venues’ refusals to host the pair amounted to an infringement on their freedom of speech.
“They may try to cancel us online, they may try to pursue us in real life, they may shut down our venues, but we will take this fight to them in the courts, in the halls of Congress, and if necessary in the streets,” he said.
In Riverside, city council members had voiced their concern with the two representatives, with council member Ronald Fierro saying, “The hateful and racist rhetoric that will be perpetrated at this event by these two well-known extremists has absolutely no place in our City.”
The M3 Live Anaheim Event Center had canceled on Gaetz and Taylor Greene Saturday afternoon, just hours before the event was scheduled to begin. This came after two separate venues, the Pacific Hills Banquet & Event Center in Laguna Hills and the Riverside Convention Center, canceled on the pair after protesters flooded the respective owners with complaints.
The M3 Live Anaheim Event Center had stepped up on Saturday morning to offer a last-minute reprieve for those who RSVP’d for the free event (“VIP” tickets, which include photo opps with Gaetz and Taylor Greene, cost $250).
But it seemed that a countdown to a third cancelation was inevitable after Mike Lyster, spokesperson for the city of Anaheim, released a statement condemning the plans.
“We learned of the planned relocation of this event to a private venue in our city late Friday. It is not a decision by or supported by the city of Anaheim,” the statement said. “As a city we respect free speech but also have a duty to call out speech that does not reflect our city and its values. We are looking into this matter this morning.”
When reached for comment, Elizabeth Camarillo, the director of operations for the M3 Live Anaheim Event Center, declined to comment.
But, moments later, the City of Anaheim tweeted that the America First rally was canned. “The city of Anaheim shared public safety concerns with the [venue] operator, and those concerns are shared by the operator,” a statement read.
It was swift action, but not swift enough to save the Anaheim Event Center’s Yelp page, which was quickly flooded by comments. “Great venue if you like businesses that work with those under investigation for molesting a child, or who promote executing public officials. I assume the toilets here overflow onto the floor,” one wrote.
“When you host Nazi sympathizers, fascists, child sex traffickers, insurrectionists (to name just a few), one star on Yelp is actually a compliment,” another said.
Gaetz tweeted through the controversy, saying the city of Anaheim’s statement “are going to make great exhibits in the lawsuit @RepMTG and I will be filing.” He urged supporters to “join us at our alternate location”— the Anaheim Event Center.
Greene, a congresswoman from Georgia, was booted from her House Committees teams in February after videos surfaced of her harassing school shooting survivors and promoting conspiracy theories about QAnon, 9/11, and the death of John F. Kennedy Jr.
CNN found that she had liked a Facebook post calling for the execution of Nancy Pelosi back in 2019. She has also suggested that California wildfires are caused by Jewish space lasers, pushed conspiracy theories about school shootings, and compared the Senate mandates to the Holocaust, which she later apologized for.