Anti-Muslim bigots have announced plans for rallies primarily targeting mosques across the country this weekend, raising concerns over how bigots can generate attention for their cause and harm the communities they target.
Unlike more well-known anti-Muslim groups and leaders like the American Freedom Defense Initiative and Pamela Geller, who have planned events around the country for years, this weekend’s planned rallies are driven by a collection of less well-known, loosely affiliated individuals.
Billed as a “Global Rally For Humanity,” the events’ primary Facebook page encourages supporters to set up their own Facebook event pages to enable other supporters to organize rallies where they live. The page notes, “Remember to do your homework and find a local mosque in your area so you can publish the location. Good Luck and welcome to the Global Rally For Humanity!”
The weekend’s planned rallies are modeled after a similar rally in May organized in Phoenix by Jon Ritzheimer, who encouraged attendees to bring their weapons to a protest outside of the Islamic Community Center in Phoenix.
Some of the rallies this weekend are similarly billed as “open-carry events,” which further raises concerns over the types of intimidation tactics that might be used and the potential for violence.
Ritzheimer, who has said he is organizing one of the rallies this weekend, has taken to social media to deliver angry and often incoherent messages with underlying currents of militancy and bigotry. In a July 25 Facebook post, for example, Ritzheimer wrote: “To all my brothers. Be ready for vengeance and be ready to drink beer from the skulls of our enemy. I am the Infidel Allah warned you about!”
Rizheimer was previously affiliated with the Oath Keepers, an anti-government right-wing movement which later distanced itself from his messages and reportedly removed him from the group after he called for the arrest of Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan.
Some of the rallies this weekend claim to be in response to the planned Nation of Islam (NOI) Justice or Else Million Man March in DC, as well as a wide range of other seemingly unrelated issues, including Syrian refugee resettlement and the Iran deal.
ADL has expressed concern and shared information about the rallies with Law Enforcement.