- Bloomberg / screengrab
The “March on Google” protest scheduled to take place in multiple cities across the US this weekend has been cancelled.
In a statement on its official website, organisers claimed they had received “credible” terrorist threats from what they described as “known Alt Left terrorist groups,” and were cancelling the march due to concerns “for the safety of our citizen participants.”
The protest was organised by conspiracy theorist and Trump supporter Jack Posobiec and others after Google engineer James Damore was fired for writing an internal memo that suggested biological differences between men and women might be responsible for the gender divide in the tech industry. News of the memo – and Damore’s subsequent firing – caused a wave of criticism from many on the right, who accused Google of suppressing free speech.
In a video announcing the March on Google event, which was scheduled for Saturday, August 19, Posobiec said that “this assault on freedom of speech … needs to be stopped.” There were marches planned for New York, Washington D.C., Austin, Google’s HQ in Mountain View, California, and other Google offices around the country.
Then over the weekend, America was rocked by violence at a White Supremacist rally in Charlottesville, culminating in an apparent white supremacist ramming his vehicle into a crowd of peaceful protesters. President Trump has come under intense criticism for at first blaming the violence on “many sides” and only later explicitly criticising neo-Nazis and white supremacists.
At a chaotic press conference on Monday, Trump characterised the anti-racist counter-protesters as “alt-left” and attacked them too: “What about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt? … What about the fact they came charging – that they came charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do.”
Critics from both left and right countered that this was a false moral equivalency between neo-Nazis and those who were opposing neo-Nazism and racism.
No, not the same. One side is racist, bigoted, Nazi. The other opposes racism and bigotry. Morally different universes.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) August 16, 2017
— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) August 15, 2017
In this context, the March on Google first put out a statement saying it “condemns and disavows violence, hatred, and bigotry and all groups that espouse it such as White Nationalists, KKK, Antifa, and NeoNazis.”
Then early on Tuesday, it was cancelled altogether. “Credible threats from known Alt Left terrorist groups have been reported to and relevant authorities have been notified,” organisers said in a statement on its website attributed to “Jack” – presumably Jack Posobiec. “In one instance, an Alt Left threat was made to use an automobile to drive into our peaceful march.”
Posobiec, a figure associated with the “alt-right,” previously advocated the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, which falsely alleged that Hillary Clinton and other Democrats were involved in a child sex-slavery ring run out of a pizza parlour in Washington D.C. Afer Trump’s election, he was escorted out of the pizza parlour in question by police after filming and livestreaming video of a child’s birthday party, The Washington Post reported.
According to a report from BuzzFeed News, Posobiec was also secretly behind a “rape Melania” sign that caused controversy after it was pictured at an anti-Trump rally, in an apparent “false flag” operation to discredit Trump’s opponents. Posobiec denies the allegation.
— Jack Posobiec ???????? (@JackPosobiec) August 16, 2017
It’s not clear how many people were due to attend the anti-Google marches, but Facebook events promoting them had relatively few attendees. One in Mountain View had 38 people down as attending, while another in Boulder had just one person. Three were down as attending for the Austin march.