- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 17, 2021

The city of Riverside, California, announced the cancellation of a rally featuring Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Matt Gaetz of Florida less than 24 hours before it was set to start Saturday.

Both controversial Republican members of Congress then moved their “America First” rally around 40 miles west of Riverside to the Anaheim Event Center before city officials there raised concerns as well.

Vocal supporters of former President Donald Trump and his so-called “America First” agenda, both politicians originally intended to hold their rally Saturday at a venue in nearby Laguna Hills, Calif.

The Pacific Hills Banquet & Event Center in Laguna Hills canceled those plans Friday, however, prompting the rally to be moved to the Riverside Convention Center before that venue quickly followed suit.

In a statement late Friday, the city of Riverside, which owns the convention center, said that Raincross Hospitality Corp., the company that manages and operates the venue, had confirmed the cancelation.

“I recognize this was a divisive issue in our community, and I am glad it has been resolved,” Riverside Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson, a Democrat elected in 2020, said in the statement released by the city.

Riverside is a diverse and inclusive community, so it is heartening to hear that this event will not move forward,” added Mayor Pro Tem Gaby Plascencia. “I am disappointed we even got to this point, because these speakers are the antithesis of everything Riverside stands for.”

The head of Raincross did not immediately respond to a message requesting comment.

Denied venues in both Laguna Hills and Riverside, the rally was then moved to Anaheim. But nearly nine hours before it was scheduled to start, the city of Anaheim announced that event was canceled, too.

“The city of Anaheim shared public safety concerns with the operator, and those concerns are shared by the operator,” Anaheim spokesman Mike Lyster said in the statement the city shared early Saturday.

“As a city we respect free speech but also have a duty to call out speech that does not reflect our city and its values,” he said.

Ms. Greene and Mr. Gaetz have each repeatedly found themselves at the center of controversy since joining Congress, and local media reported that demonstrators had planned to protest the Riverside event.

SEE ALSO: Anaheim intervenes ahead of ‘America First’ rally with Greene, Gaetz, says venue won’t host event

“The radical left and the woke mob is trying to cancel our rally, but we’re not going to let it happen,” Ms. Greene said in a video statement she shared on social media late Friday evening.

“You can’t cancel us, you can’t stop us. We’re going to save America,” Ms. Greene added.

Mr. Gaetz suggested from his own social media account on Saturday morning that both congress members were considering suing over the most recent cancellation in Riverside, meanwhile.

Referring to the statement Riverside issued the night before, Mr. Gaetz said on Twitter: “These quotes are going to make great exhibits in the lawsuit [Ms. Greene] and I will be filing.”

Ms. Greene, a first-year House member representing Georgia’s 14th congressional district, was stripped of her committee assignments in February after revelations emerged about her past social media posts.

More recently, Ms. Greene was forced to publicly apologize last month amid facing a possible censure for having repeatedly comparing efforts to curb the novel coronavirus pandemic with the Holocaust.

Mr. Gaetz, who has represented Florida’s first congressional district since 2017, is reportedly under federal investigation for possible sex trafficking, according to several outlets. He denies wrongdoing.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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