ANAHEIM (CBSLA) - After three separate attempts to hold an "America First" rally were cancelled by southland venues, organizers held an impromptu rally outside Riverside City Hall Saturday.
Congress members Matt Gaetz and Majorie Taylor Greene were forced to downsize to a small protest in Riverside and are now threatening a lawsuit over all the cancellations.
The Anaheim Event Center was the third venue to cancel on organizers. Anaheim officials say they expressed safety concerns with the private venue, and the operators shared those concerns. The event was also canceled at two previous venues, in Laguna Hills and Riverside.
Gaetz and Greene spoke for just a short time each at the impromptu Riverside event.
"They may try to shutdown our venues, but we will take this fight to them in the courts, in the halls of Congress and if necessary, in the streets," Gaetz said.
Hinting at a lawsuit over the cancellations, Greene and Gaetz stirred the crowd up and then left.
Supporters and protestors were gathered on opposite side of the street.
"What they're saying about Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz is just horrible. It's not true," Torey Neely, who attended the Riverside rally said. "They must be dangerous. They must be worried about them because we're not going to quit fighting for America. We're not going to lose our country. We're not going to socialism."
Counter protestor Robert Hergenroder felt differently about the two members of Congress.
"Both of the people are propagandists. I do not believe their rhetoric belongs in polite society. Because of that, I think it is important that people express that their rhetoric shouldn't belong in society," he said.
City of Anaheim spokesperson Mike Lyster said security concerns caused the cancellation at a private venue in Anaheim, but that the owner made the decision, not the city.
Experts said that is a legal reason for even a public venue to pull out of an event.
However, Professor Brian Levin said it's less clear why the Riverside Convention Center pulled out of the event and said there's a factor that could give Gaetz and Greene a legal leg to stand on, which is that the convention center is managed by a private company, but owned by the city.
"As long as it's blind to the viewpoint, in other words if they would have treated the Girl Scouts the same way, I think the city has a defense. However, if the rally organizers find there is a viewpoint-centric reason for the refusal of their request, I think they have at least the beginnings of a plausible case," Levin said.
The rally was initially planned for the Pacific Hills Banquet & Event Center in Laguna Hills, but canceled there because "we just want to stay clear of that," general manager Javad Mirtavoosi told The Orange County Register last week.
It was then shifted to the Riverside Convention Center, but officials with the Raincross Hospitality Corp., which manages and operates the city-owned center under contract with the city, told city officials Friday night the event would not take place.
"I recognize this was a divisive issue in our community, and I am glad it has been resolved," Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson said. "I commend Raincross Hospitality Corp. for this decision."
Gaetz suggested Saturday that he and Greene might file a lawsuit over the Riverside cancellation.
Gaetz announced on Twitter Saturday he will hold a "Peaceful Protest Against Communism" outside the Riverside City Hall at 5 p.m.
The two Republicans are both strong supporters of former President Donald Trump and have been lightning rods for criticism from the political left.
A planned vigil for the late Congressman John Lewis was scheduled in the same sport Saturday night, but never seemed to materialize due to concerns that it would lead to further protests.
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