Portland Mayor Calls on Federal Government to Block Free Speech Rallies
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler is calling on the federal government to block a free speech rally planned in the city for June 4, as well as an anti-Sharia Law march scheduled for June 10.
— KATU News (@KATUNews) May 29, 2017
In a statement posted on Twitter, Wheeler wrote that the city will not be issuing permits for the events — but noted that the federal government controls Shrunk Plaza where they are scheduled to take place. He added that the organizers have already been issued the necessary permit for at least one of the events.
“I have confirmed that the City of Portland has NOT and will not issue any permits for the alt-right events scheduled for June 4 and June 10. The Federal government controls permitting for Shrunk Plaza, and it is my understanding that they have issued a permit for the event on June 4,” Wheeler wrote.
Wheeler added that he is “calling on the Federal government to IMMEDIATELY REVOKE the permit(s) they have issued for the June 4 event, and not issue a permit for June 10.”
The mayor went on to cite Friday’s fatal stabbing attack by Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, a mentally ill Bernie Sanders supporter, who had previously been removed from a free-speech rally by right-wing attendees. The attacker has been widely portrayed in the liberal media as a supporter of President Donald Trump, despite one look at his Facebook account telling a different tale.
Still, Wheeler blamed the free-speech movement, writing that “Our city is in mourning, our community’s anger is real, and the timing and subject of these events can only exacerbate an already difficult situation.”
“I am appealing to the organizers of the alt-right demonstrations to CANCEL the events they have scheduled on June 4 and June 10. I urge them to ask their supporters to stay away from Portland,” Wheeler continued. “There is never a place for hatred and bigotry in our community, and especially not now.”
The mayor, blaming the right and the freedom of speech for an attack by a man who had posted about his desire to kill Trump supporters on Facebook, went on to call on “every elected leader in Oregon, every legal agency, every level of law enforcement, to stand with me in preventing another tragedy.”
“Joey Gibson aka Patriot Prayer (local evangelical preacher) is the organizer. He’s done other pro-Trump events in the area. The attacker Jeremy Christian attended one of those events in April and was kicked out,” Andy Ngo, a Portland journalist, told Big League Politics. “Local media (and now international media) has referred to Gibson and his events as ‘far right’ or ‘alt-right’, but I attended one in April [as a reporter] and it seemed very moderate — although there were small group of fringe people.”
During the event in April, protesters attacked rally attendees with smoke grenades, and attempted to storm the barricades separating the two groups.
The June 4 event is being advertised as a “Trump Free Speech Rally with Based Stick Man.”
“There will be speakers exercising their free speech, live music, flags, and an uplifting experience to bring back strength and courage to those who believe in freedom,” the event page reads.
Meanwhile, Portland antifa has been calling for a counter protest against free speech — and Wheeler has not called for them to stand down.
Antifa & anarchist counter-event poster: "Defend Portland! Far right Christian fundamentalists & white nationalists are coming to Portland!" pic.twitter.com/2tw8nOCuYa
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) May 29, 2017
The event Wheeler has referenced on June 10 is an Act for America march against Sharia Law. The group will be holding the marches in approximately two dozen cities on that day.
The ACLU of Oregon has called Wheeler’s attempt to squash free speech based on political views a violation of the First Amendment.
“The government cannot revoke or deny a permit based on the viewpoint of the demonstrators,” The ACLU said in a statement posted to Twitter. “Period.
“It may be tempting to shut down speech we disagree with, but once we allow the government to decide what we can say, see, or hear, or who we can gather with, history shows us that the most marginalized will be disproportionately censored and punished for unpopular speech,” the statement continued. “We are all free to reject and protest ideas we don’t agree with. That is a core, fundamental freedom of the United States. If we allow the government to shut down speech for some, we all will pay the price down the line.”