The organizer of an “anti-Marxist” rally slated to take place in Berkeley’s Civic Center Park on Sunday made a surprise appearance at a press conference held by political leaders earlier this week and tried to set the record straight about her goals for this weekend.
Amber Cummings, a transgender woman who lives in the Bay Area but has reportedly declined to reveal her city of residence, set up on the sidewalk Tuesday morning and was quickly surrounded by reporters who had come to Berkeley City Hall to hear from political leaders who said they would speak out against hatred and bigotry.
A passerby on the street repeatedly interrupted and challenged Cummings about her statements while she spoke and answered media questions for about 10 minutes before the official press conference began.
Cummings said her event is not about hate speech or white supremacy.
“That is an outright lie that this mayor is propagating,” she said, of Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín. “White supremacy is not allowed at my rally. We do not want racist people there. We do not want hateful people there.”
She continued: “We also do not want violent people there. If anybody is coming with the intent of violence, do not come to my rally.”
Cummings said her event would be “a diverse rally” that would include several transgender women as well as “people of all colors.”
Cummings also rejected any connection to recent events in Charlottesville that left one woman and two officers dead after violent clashes there. Of Sunday’s event, she said, “It’s not a right-wing rally. Anybody that supports the constitution, supports our country and loves our people is welcome.”
Cummings said her event is focused on free speech, and seeks to criticize how “anti-American hatred” and “Marxism is being taught” at UC Berkeley. Cummings said she doesn’t think it’s right that she can’t walk on campus or through city streets with an American flag without getting harassed.
She also spoke out against antifascists and supporters of the group By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) — who she said sparked much of the violence at rallies in Berkeley earlier this year.
“My rally is exposing the violent Marxists of antifa and BAMN,” she said. “And exposing that this mayor is covering up for these people and not speaking up.”
She alleged that people from both groups have previously attacked individuals carrying American flags, and burned the flag and “free speech” signs, “attacking veterans, attacking police, attacking the elderly.”
“We’ve had enough,” she said. “In America … we have the right to speak patriotism. We have the right to speak about our country. We have the right to be proud of our country.”
Cummings said she herself was attacked March 4 at a rally in Berkeley, and was pushed to the ground and “violently accosted for nothing more than showing up.”
The man who had stopped on the sidewalk to listen to, and confront, Cummings shouted questions at her, like, “Are you promoting hate speech?” She aimed to use the interruptions to her advantage, noting to the media in attendance, “This is how rude these people are. This is what I mean. They try to interrupt free speech.”
The two eventually got into a shouting match about who is responsible for the violence at political rallies.
“Antifa brings the violence,” Cummings told the man.
“Antifa lives here,” the man answered. “We don’t do anything to anyone.”
“You guys claim you’re antifascist,” Cummings replied. “You are the fascists.”
“If you stand for hate and violence, I will stand against you 100% of the time,” he answered.
Cummings appeared on camera wearing a bandana over her face, which she said was a demonstration to criticize the bandanas antifa supporters have often worn at prior political events.
“You hide your face like a coward, because you are a terrorist,” Cummings told the unmasked man. “People are walking around like this, violent terrorists in masks, and this mayor does nothing about it. He calls us the violent ones.”
A member of the media pointed out that the man on the sidewalk was not, in fact, wearing a mask. Cummings countered that he was likely to wear one during a political demonstration.
In response to requests from the media, Cummings did show her face and remove the bandana at times.
She said it isn’t her goal to have any violence at her event Sunday, and reiterated that her fight is not about white supremacy.
“Neo-Nazis would not stand with somebody like me,” she said. “And I would not want them there.”
Cummings did apply for a permit Aug. 17 for her event Sunday, but the city has not yet decided whether to issue one, a city spokeswoman told Berkeleyside late Thursday afternoon. She came up with the idea for the event back in June, she said, and more than 300 people have indicated on Facebook that they will attend. Another 870 people have said they are “interested.”
In the application, Cummings said her event, entitled “No to Marxism in America,” would take place from 1-5 p.m. at Civic Center Park, with setup beginning at 7 a.m.
She wrote, in brief remarks on the form, “My understanding is I’m not responsible for what people attending does [sic]. I do not endorse or agree with … destruction or violence period.” She continued, on the next page, in relation to a form about possible costs tied to the event: “I do not have means to pay for all costs. I am exercising my rights granted under the Constitution.”
She said 40 people have volunteered to help with security, in response to a question about security plans, and noted, “We have cell phones.”
She also applied to be allowed to use amplified sound at the event.
See Berkeleyside’s live video coverage of the Cummings remarks below.