Dog Owners Plan Poop Protest of Far-Right Rally at Crissy Field

As a joke for his friends, Terrance Ryan created a Facebook event (including this map) inviting people to bring their dogs to Crissy Field, where the Patriot Prayer rally is being held on Saturday, and poop. He didn't realize he'd made the event public, and it quickly went viral. (Courtesy of Terrance Ryan)

Update: Friday, Aug. 25 5:30 p.m.: The planned "poop protest" has been cancelled after the far-right rally at Crissy Field was called off by its organizer.

"Thanks everyone for your support," wrote organizer Terrance Ryan on the event's Facebook page. "Patriot Prayer has canceled their event at Crissy Field and your dog's services are no longer needed!"

Original post:

Terrance Ryan was out walking his dogs recently thinking about the deadly white supremacist assembly in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the far-right Patriot Prayer rally coming to San Francisco this weekend when inspiration struck.

As his Patterdale terriers, Bob and Chuck, "were doing their business, I just had the image in my head of a bunch of alt-right fans walking around a field of poop," said Ryan, an artist and designer living in San Francisco who goes by Tuffy Tuffington in his work.

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As a joke for his friends, Ryan created a Facebook event inviting people to bring their dogs to Crissy Field, where the Patriot Prayer rally is being held on Saturday. The idea: Let the canines poop there and then leave the excrement behind as a kind of welcome mat for rally attendees.

Dog Owners Plan Poop Protest of Far-Right Rally at Crissy Field

Dog Owners Plan Poop Protest of Far-Right Rally at Crissy Field

"Leave a gift for our Alt-Right friends. Take your dog to Crissy Field and let them do their business and be sure not to clean it up!" the Facebook page reads. "We can get together Sunday and clean up the mess and hug each other!"

Ryan didn't realize he'd made the event public. Within a few hours, "Operation: Doggy Droppings" had gone viral.

"It became kind of a real thing," he said.

As of Friday morning, more than 1,000 people had RSVP'd to the event on Facebook and nearly 6,000 said they were interested.

But not everyone is a fan of the creative protest, which has a "poomit area." A lot of people aren't sold on the idea of encouraging thousands of people to leave their dogs' droppings on a public field.

Depending on how the rally goes on Saturday, Ryan said he'll either go out to the field that afternoon or on Sunday to clean everything up.

Terrance Ryan and his two dogs. He was walking these dogs when he came up with the idea for his poop protest.
Terrance Ryan and his two dogs. He was walking these dogs when he came up with the idea for his poop protest. (Courtesy of Terrance Ryan)

"I went down there Monday just to see what the condition of the field is now, and there's already a lot of goose droppings all over the place, which are the same size as my dogs', " Ryan said. "So it's already a pretty big mess."

The National Park Service approved a permit for the rally at Crissy Field, which is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, despite calls from city and state leaders to deny it. The park service said it was balancing free speech and public safety concerns, and issuing a permit would allow police to put together a "comprehensive" safety plan.

Many creative counterdemonstrations across the Bay Area have sprung up in response to the Crissy Field rally and another far-right assembly taking place in Berkeley on Sunday, including Ryan's poop protest.

Initially, Ryan said he hoped his event would help discourage people from attending the rally and that the permit might be revoked. He said he's watched a lot of Patriot Prayer's videos to try to understand what the group is trying to accomplish.

"It sounds like they're provocateurs and they're trying to instigate some sort of conflict," he said. "They say they want to have a peaceful prayer rally, but there's no clergy involved. They say they want to keep things peaceful, but they have a militia as their security. So it just doesn't add up."

The head of Patriot Prayer, Joey Gibson, has repeatedly denied his organization involves white nationalism, white supremacy or other bigoted ideologies. However, the organization has ties to militias that frequently show up armed to white supremacist events and has featured white nationalist speakers.

KQED's Sukey Lewis contributed reporting to this story.