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Antifa activist ready to rumble at Bay Area right-wing gatherings

Antifa activist ready to rumble at Bay Area right-wing gatherings

San Francisco Chronicle

Bulletproof vest. Check. Arm and kneepads. Check. Two-way radio. Check.

John Cookenboo, 27, knows exactly what he’s packing Saturday when he shows up to demonstrate against a group of right-wing activists in San Francisco — wherever they choose to appear — and at a similar gathering in Berkeley on Sunday.

The Oakland resident, who will be among hundreds if not thousands of counterprotesters expected to turn out for the latest mobilization of the far right under President Trump, brings his own brand of opposition. And it’s a far cry from the many peace vigils planned elsewhere in the Bay Area.

Cookenboo is part of what’s commonly called antifa and described as an extreme movement of its own, but on the left. He will join an unknown number of people seeking to directly confront those behind Saturday’s Patriot Prayer gathering, even if it means getting physical. He says he was ready when the event was initially planned for Crissy Field, and that if the group follows through with its last-minute decision to hold what it claims will be a “press conference” in Alamo Square instead, he’ll be there.

“I don’t have the widest build,” said Cookenboo, who took a few knocks from political opponents at a recent pro-Trump rally in Berkeley and ended up spending four days in jail. “But I’m tall, and I know my limitations. I know how to get done what I need to get done.”

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