SAN FRANCISCO — In the run-up to an alt-right rally scheduled for Crissy Field on Aug. 26, the Jewish Bar Association of San Francisco has been raising funds for an organization dedicated to combatting extremism in the United States.
The JBASF’s “Adopt a Nazi (Not Really)” gofundme page, which is collecting donations for the Southern Poverty Law Center, had received more than $80,000 as of Monday morning, more than 8 times the original $10,000 goal set out by board member Cody Harris, a partner at Keker, Van Nest & Peters. As of Monday morning, a $5,500 pledge from Harris’ firm was the highest single donation.
“For every person who is going to show up and espouse these views, we will respond by funding an organization whose purpose is to track and combat extremism,” said Harris in a phone interview Monday morning.
Harris said he was inspired by similar fundraising by the German town of Wunsiedel, which unwillingly played host to an annual march in honor of Nazi Rudolf Hess, who was once buried there. In 2014, unbeknownst to the neo-Nazis, townspeople “sponsored” the 250 marchers and raised 10,000 euros for an anti-extremist organization. Harris said that his fundraiser, like the one in Germany, is a way to use supremacists’ “perceived power against them.”
The “Adopt a Nazi (Not Really)” name, Harris said, was meant to be both “tongue-in-cheek” and “provocative.” It’s also proved to be a spot-on piece of branding. As of Monday morning, the campaign’s gofundme site had been viewed more than 44,500 times and shared on Facebook nearly 10,000 times. Harris has raised the total fundraising goal of the campaign to $100,000. He said that number could rise as more donations come in and Saturday’s rally approaches. Harris expects other law firms will also pledge to the campaign.
“As lawyers, we all took an oath to defend the Constitution,” Harris said. “This is not just about the First Amendment, it’s about equal protection, due process and those fundamental values that underlie our system of government.”
“I think that’s why the legal community in particular wanted to respond.”
The organizers of Saturday’s scheduled rally, Patriot Prayer, have denied any affiliation with the alt-right or white nationalists. But Harris said that the group has a history of “provoking” and “trolling,” including holding a rally in Portland, Oregon, the week after a white supremacist who attended one of the group’s rallies stabbed three men on a commuter train.
“[The organizer] did it in a city that was grieving and right now the whole country is grieving,” Harris said. “Everyone is on edge because of the people they tend to attract.”
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