Demonstrators carrying signs calling for a ban on conservative news websites, including the Drudge Report, Breitbart News and Infowars, crashed the protest Thursday against the Federal Communications Commission's vote to start the process of dismantling Obama-era "net neutrality."
The protesters were standing outside of the FCC opening meeting in Washington, D.C., where by a 2-1 vote, the Republican-led agency approved a notice of proposed rulemaking titled "Restoring Internet Freedom."
Pictures and video posted to social media showed the protest was attended by an eclectic bunch, with some attendees going beyond the premise behind net neutrality for a free and open Internet by calling for a ban on conservative media outlets.
Among the signs on display was one that read "Stop online hate media! Ban Drudge." Another blared: "Ban Breitbart."
Then there's these "antifa" guys. Pro-net neutrality folks not happy — @mattfwood tells me they're fighting for opposite principles. pic.twitter.com/z8z2Sg7Z60— Brendan Bordelon (@BrendanBordelon) May 18, 2017
Describing them as "Antifas," or anti-Fascist protesters, National Journal's Brendan Bordelon said on Twitter that the pro-net neutrality demonstrators were not please by their presence. He said Matt Wood of Free Press, one of the event organizers, claimed that the Antifas was canvassing for principles that dissented from the majority of the protesters in attendance.
Other signs on display called for the end of online hate speech from Fox News' Sean Hannity and Infowars. There was also a giant prop showing FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and President Trump as marionettes being controlled by the hands of the largest broadband companies, with a head that was a sack of money.
Dozens of organizations got together for the protest to "Save Net Neutrality," including the ACLU, Free Press, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Fight for the Future. Speakers included Sens. Ed Markey, D-Mass. and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Reps. Jared Polis, D-Colo., and Barbara Lee, D-Calif., as well as former FCC commissioners.
At one point the crowd was led through a chant of "Fair communication, no discrimination." Organizers said they gathered over a million signatures in favor of net neutrality that would be delivered to the FCC.
The FCC proposal approved Thursday, which now goes through a public-comment period, would undo the FCC's prior move to classify Internet service providers like AT&T and Comcast as Title II public utilities subject to FCC control. That was done in order to impose more stringent oversight of companies to ensure they cannot block or inhibit access to certain types of web services from different providers or create pay-to-play fast lanes for certain content.