As COVID-19 Cases Spike, Right-Wing Activists Plan National Rallies to Combat ‘Radical Leftists’

Scott Presler and Brandon Straka (Illustration: Jared Holt)

As coronavirus cases swell in the United States, right-wing activists Scott Presler and Brandon Straka are planning and fundraising for national rallies meant to confront the “radical leftists” they believe have taken over the country in the weeks following the police killing of George Floyd.

Presler, a former activism strategist for the ​anti-Islam ACT For America, spoke at the Fairfax County Republican Committee in Virginia on July 7 and turned his final minutes over to Straka, who founded the #WalkAway campaign designed to turn Democratic voters into Republicans. On his way to the stage, Straka stopped to hug several audience members.

“You guys, it feels so good to be hugging people again,” Straka said, adding, “I am so sick of all this shutdown bullshit.”

Straka told the crowd that he and Presler would be meeting to plan a string of rallies in American cities meant to assert conservatives’ presence against “radical leftists” who he says “have completely taken over our country.” Straka said that watching news reports about civil unrest following the death of George Floyd made him feel “powerless” and that he didn’t see conservative leadership doing much on the issue.

“In the absence, it seems, of any real leadership, any real pushback, we’re just going to step up and take leadership ourselves,” Straka said.

Straka said his team was going to start planning rallies across the country “to show these radical leftists that they do not own America’s streets.” Details for the rallies are currently unclear, but Straka is already soliciting donations with the goal of raising $500,000. A donation page on Straka’s website showed that supporters have already given more than $67,000 to the cause.

“Everybody right now is just waiting for one person to step up and say ‘Here’s what we’re going to do.’ So guys, here’s what we’re going to do,” Straka said. “We’re going to take our streets back. We’re going to take our neighborhoods back. We’re going to take our cities back. We’re going to take this whole damn country back.”

Presler and Straka’s plans come at a time when record-setting spikes of coronavirus cases are causing areas of the U.S. to scale back reopening plans. ​In an apparent publicity stunt, Straka was removed from an American Airlines flight last month after refusing to wear a mask. The airline has banned Straka from flying on its planes until such time as “face coverings are no longer required for customers.”