With a heavy police presence standing between them, bikers and their supporters confronted defenders of a Phoenix mosque Friday night over a so-called “Freedom of Speech Rally Round II” featuring a “Draw Mohammad” contest.
Thrown together by former Marine Jon Ritzheimer, the event was reportedly “in response to the recent attack in Texas where 2 armed terrorist [sic], with ties to ISIS, attempted Jihad.” The protest comes weeks after two men were killed by police after they attacked a similar event in Garland, Texas.
On the event Facebook page, Ritzheimer wrote, “This Islamic Community Center is a known place that the 2 terrorist [sic] frequented. People are also encouraged to utilize there [sic] second amendment right at this event just in case our first amendment comes under the much anticipated attack.”
On Twitter, users commented on the event that many felt was needlessly provocative — pointing out that Ritzheimer wears and sells t-shirts reading “F*ck Islam” — by using the hashtag #NotMyAmerica, which drew tweets from both sides of the controversy.
Supporters of Ritzheimer attacked Islam or used the opportunity to state their belief that being criticized for the drawing contest was anti-1st Amendment and therefore un-American.
Our freedom of speech, expression, and assembly seemingly shut down because it offends someone is #NotMyAmerica
— Caroline Craig (@CeeJayCraig) May 30, 2015
— Knightgeek Steve (@knightgeek27) May 30, 2015
Islam has a violent strain that needs to be confronted. Can't keep pandering to them and expect everything to just be okay. #NotMyAmerica
— Karl von Bachmann (@holnortes) May 30, 2015
Free speech is threatened by a religious group. #NotMyAmerica
— Greymarch (@Greymarch) May 30, 2015
— Mary Anne (@maryannemercog) May 30, 2015
— RedNationRising (@RedNationRising) May 30, 2015
Defenders of the mosque criticized the biker group for bringing weapons to the protest, while accusing them of bigotry and hate.
— Neale Clunie (@AbeFroman) May 30, 2015
Hey let's poke a wasp's nest with a stick and when we get stung it'll prove them wasps is all evil and we're good Christians. #NotMyAmerica
— John Fugelsang (@JohnFugelsang) May 30, 2015
These "patriot" bikers have a lot common with terrorist organizations, great job representing America idiots #NotMyAmerica
— Kunal Patadia (@MrNDNOfficial) May 30, 2015
— DrBarakat (@PsychBarakat) May 30, 2015
Poor conservatives, America is changing in front of their neanderthal eyes and there's nothing they can do about it. #NotMyAmerica
— BWD (@theonlyadult) May 30, 2015
What's happening in Phoenix now provides further proof that Pamela Geller is indeed a hate group leader. #NotMyAmerica
— Gus (@Gus_802) May 30, 2015
Armed men surrounding and harrassing a minority's religious institution is not free speech. It's terrorism. #NotMyAmerica
— Mike Rothschild (@rothschildmd) May 29, 2015
Imagine if these were armed Muslim protesters outside a white evangelical church or the Academy of Country Music Awards #NotmyAmerica
— Jack Kimble (@RepJackKimble) May 30, 2015
"ALL MUSLIMS ARE VIOLENT" scream armed white bikers who show up at a mosque to harass innocent Muslim-Americans. #NotMyAmerica
— Gabe Ortíz (@TUSK81) May 30, 2015
Hey, white men who feel “so oppressed” by the U.S. today – don’t confuse persecution with not being worshiped anymore. #NotMyAmerica
— Jason Chesnut (@crazypastor) May 29, 2015
— Preston Phillips (@10NewsPhillips) May 30, 2015
Juan Rivera ( @jrivera64) made a point that shouldn’t be forgotten about all religious fundamentalists:
— Juan Rivera (@jrivera64) May 30, 2015