An “America First” rally that had been scheduled for Saturday in Anaheim, California, was canceled, and city officials were jubilant over the news.
A Twitter post from the city announced the cancellation, noting that the city was a prime mover in ensuring that the event featuring Republican Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia would not take place.
“The city of Anaheim shared public safety concerns with the operator, and those concerns were shared by the operator,” the statement said.
Then came a hint at the real reason.
“As a city we respect free speech but also have a duty to call out speech that does not reflect the city or our values,” the statement said.
When the city was called out for picking and choosing which brands of free speech were permitted, the city insisted safety concerns it did not elaborate upon were the real reason.
“Please help us share accurate information. We uphold free speech every day in Anaheim. As a city, we enjoy the same right of free speech and can note when something doesn’t align with our values. To be clear: public safety concerns are why this is not still on,” the city said in a statement.
Many on Twitter noted that this decision smacked of censorship.
Saturday’s canceled rally was to be held at the Anaheim Event Center, a privately owned facility, according to KNBC-TV.
The event had been scheduled at venues in two other southern California cities — Laguna Hills and Riverside — but each backed out, KNBC reported.
“I recognize this was a divisive issue in our community, and I am glad it has been resolved,” Riverside Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson said, adding that she commended a venue that canceled the event.
The Laguna Hills venue, the Pacific Hills Banquet & Event Center, is also privately owned.
However, the Riverside Convention Center, which also canceled the rally, is owned by the city. That means the cancellation could face a serious legal challenge, KNBC reported.
Greene and Gaetz did hold a protest event outside Riverside City Hall on Saturday.
“They may try to shut down 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, according to KCAL-TV.