‘Adopt-a-Nazi’ campaign raises funds to counter white nationalist rally

California attorney, local Jewish Bar Association behind tongue-in-cheek response to far-right ‘free speech’ rally in San Francisco on Saturday

Hundreds of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the 'alt-right' march during the Unite the Right rally August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Hundreds of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the 'alt-right' march during the Unite the Right rally August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO — It sounds like a deal with the devil, but a new GoFundMe page that asks people to “Adopt-a-Nazi” is actually a fundraiser for a civil rights group.

San Francisco attorney Cody Harris and the Jewish Bar Association of San Francisco are behind the tongue-in-cheek response to a far-right “free speech” rally in San Francisco on Saturday

The campaign asks visitors to donate a small amount of money to the Southern Poverty Law Center by “sponsoring” each person expected to attend the rally. Some donors have pledged $6; others have given $600 or more. About 300 people are expected to attend the rally.

Launched on Thursday with an initial goal of $10,000, the campaign passed that target in 24 hours. The goal was changed to $100,000 and then to $125,000. As of Tuesday morning, more than $91,000 had been raised.

The link has been shared 10,000 times on Facebook.

“What it shows is that people want to do something positive,” Harris said.

When Harris heard about the San Francisco rally, he was shocked that a national issue stirred by the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, was coming to his doorstep. He created the GoFundMe page “Adopt-a-Nazi (Not Really)” to raise money for the Southern Poverty Law Center, a national organization fighting hate and extremism and tracking neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups.

Harris came up with the idea after hearing about a town in Germany that countered a neo-Nazi parade in 2014 with a fundraiser to benefit anti-extremist groups. He asked the Jewish Bar Association of San Francisco, where he is a board member, to take on the effort.

The Saturday rally is being organized by the Portland-based group Patriot Prayer, whose events have been marked by clashes between protesters and counterprotesters. The group is led by Joey Gibson, a Trump supporter who has publicly denounced white supremacists but whose rallies still draw white nationalists, anti-Semites and self-described fascists, according to SPLC and other groups.

Gibson has said that security for the Patriot Prayer group will be provided by the Oath Keepers, an armed, militia-like group that the Anti-Defamation League has described as a “large but loosely organized collection of anti-government extremists.”

The rally, which has been condemned by local and national politicians and drawn opposition from around the Bay Area, has tentative approval from the National Park Service. A final decision is expected any day.

Bay Area Jewish leaders and Jewish organizations are split on how to respond to the rally and its “alt-right” message, which often contains racist and anti-Semitic tropes. Some plan to join counterprotests at Crissy Field, while others say the best response is to attend planned alternative, peaceful gatherings elsewhere.

One woman was killed and dozens were injured when a car driven by a suspected white supremacist plowed into a crowd of counterprotesters following a far-right rally in Charlottesville on August 12.

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