October 26, 2021

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San Francisco braces for possible pro-Trump demonstration at Twitter headquarters on Monday – San Francisco Chronicle

3 min read

San Francisco police were preparing for a possible pro-Trump demonstration at Twitter’s headquarters on Monday, days after the social media company banned President Trump, citing the risk that he might incite further violence following last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol.

The San Francisco Police Department was aware of a possible protest happening on the 1300 block of Market Street, a spokesman said. Police said they have been in contact with representatives from the tech company and will have sufficient resources to respond to demonstrations and calls for assistance across the city.

A spokesperson for Twitter — whose employees have been working from home since the early days of the pandemic — said that the company’s highest priority was workers’ safety.

“While we respect people’s right to express their views, we’ve been transparent about the factors leading up to our decision last week,” the spokesperson said in an email.

Police declined to answer if there was any indication that protesters would be coming from out of the area or how many they expected to show up. They said that policy prohibits discussions of police planning, tactics and strategy.

Posts on TheDonald.win — an independent far-right internet forum created as a successor to the now-banned r/The_Donald community on Reddit — called for supporters to gather outside of Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco Monday morning to protest the company’s ban of Trump. The community on Reddit was banned in June 2020 for harassing and targeting other users.

In a Saturday post, a user advised attendees to bring megaphones and whistles, wear body cameras, and carry with them “big” zip ties to “citizen arrest violent agitators.” Others suggested people wear masks, sunglasses and MAGA hats to obscure their identities.

Several businesses in the area near Twitter’s headquarters told The Chronicle on Sunday that they planned to maintain their scheduled business hours on Monday. San Francisco’s City Hall, located just a few blocks away from the Twitter building, has been mostly shuttered for months because of the pandemic. Only one of its entrances is typically open and few city employees still work there on a regular basis.

In permanently suspending the account @realDonaldTrump, which had tens of millions of followers, Twitter cited multiple violations of its community rules and the possibility that future content tweeted by President Trump could incite more violence.

“Our public interest framework exists to enable the public to hear from elected officials and world leaders directly,” Twitter said in a blog post Friday. “However, we made it clear going back years that these accounts are not above our rules entirely and cannot use Twitter to incite violence, among other things.”

On Wednesday, a mob incited by Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol, breaching security perimeters and ransacking property in a siege that left five people dead, including one Capitol police officer. Law enforcement officers have continued to arrest suspected participants even after they dispersed around the country.

Trump’s presidency has been defined by his rants on Twitter and his use of the platform to demean and bully his enemies, offer political endorsements, and fire members of his administration. To many U.S. officials and the public, his tweets were the equivalent to announcements from the White House.

“You got to give Donald Trump credit for understanding that he could deploy or use this technology more effectively than his opponents could to rally his supporters,” said Steven Weber, a political science professor at the UC Berkeley School of Information. “When the technology is a level playing field, anybody can use it. And it’s often the case that people who are the most ruthless will use it the most effectively.”

Chronicle staff writer J.D. Morris contributed to this report.

Vanessa Arredondo is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: vanessa.arredondo@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @v_anana

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