Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has called on the federal government to revoke a previously issued permit for a June 4 alt-right rally planned in his city. Mayor Wheeler is also attempting to make sure that a permit for a second event scheduled for June 10. The first event, the Trump Free Speech Rally, is slated to take place at the Terry Shrunk Plaza in Portland, a venue for which the feds control permitting. The second Portland alt-right gathering has been labeled #MarchAgainstSharia.
The mayor's request that the feds revoke the June 4 alt-right rally permit and that the June 10 permit be outright denied comes just days after a horrific stabbing attack took place on a Portland train. The May 26 Portland train stabbing was reportedly sparked after the alleged attacker began yelling hate speech and anti-Muslim slurs at two young women. A group of bystanders intervened in an attempt to stop the verbal assault, and as a result, two good Samaritans were stabbed to death and a third was seriously injured.
The suspect in the stabbing was apprehended fleeing the scene of the Portland attack and has been identified as 35-year-old Jeremy Joseph Christian of North Portland. His victims have been identified as 23-year-old Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 53-year-old Ricky John Best (both of whom passed away), and 21-year-old Micah David Cole-Fletcher, who survived.As The Washington Times reports, alleged Portland train assailant Jeremy Joseph Christian is facing two counts of aggravated murder, two counts of second-degree intimidation (hate crime), and being a felon in possession of a restricted weapon. It is also possible that Christian will face federal hate crime charges due to his alleged hate speech in the moments leading up to the attack.
"This suspect was on the train and he was yelling and ranting and raving a lot of different things, including what we characterized at hate speech or biased language.In the midst of his ranting and raving, some people approached him, appeared to try to intervene with his behavior and some of the people that he was yelling at. They were attacked viciously by the suspect."In calling on the federal government to revoke the alt-right Trump Free Speech Rally permit, Mayor Wheeler turned to Facebook to cite the Portland community's mourning and anger in the aftermath of the May 26 train stabbing. He also noted the terrible timing of the alt-right events in relation to the seemingly racially-motivated double murders.
"I am calling on the federal government to IMMEDIATELY REVOKE the permit(s) they have issued for the June 4th event and to not issue a permit for June 10th.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."Mayor Wheeler reiterated at a Monday press conference that the City of Portland had not issued any permits for either event and vowed that none would be issued. In addition to calling on the feds to revoke the permit for the Trump Free Speech Rally, Wheeler called on organizers of both Portland alt-right gatherings to step up and cancel the events themselves as well ask their supporters to "stay away from Portland," reports ABC News.
Joey Gibson, the organizer of the Trump Free Speech Rally, has blatantly refused to cancel his event or to be silenced by Mayor Wheeler's request to honor the mourning of the citizens of Portland. Gibson has already gotten the necessary permit for his June 4 event (scheduled just 10 days after the horrific and deadly train stabbing), and he claims that if the City of Portland refuses to issue additionally necessary permits, his event could end up being more dangerous than it would otherwise have been.As KGW 8 reports, Jeremy Joseph Christian was a self-proclaimed white supremacist and had attended alt-right events similar to the one planned for June 4 in the past. In fact, the suspect in the Portland train stabbing has even been to at least one alt-right rally organized by Gibson himself. According to Mayor Wheeler, the type of "hate speech" spouted at such alt-right events has no place in Portland and no protection under the Constitution.
"I'm reminded constantly that they have a First Amendment right to speak. My pushback on that is hate speech is not protected under the U.S. Constitution."Joey Gibson, a self-proclaimed Libertarian and operator of the group Patriot Prayer, says argues that his rally is not about hate speech, but rather "freedom," "love," and "spirituality."
"I promote freedom. I promote love and I promote bringing spirituality back into this country."In his first court appearance, however, accused Portland train stabber Christian shouted well-known alt-right phrases as he was led into court, including a statement about free speech.
Despite Gibson's assertion that he eschews hate speech and promotes love and freedom, two of the groups slated to appear at the Trump Free Speech Rally, "Based Spartan" and "Based Stickman" are well-known alt-right "heroes."
According to Joey Gibson, accused Portland stabbing suspect Jeremy Christian was kicked out of a Patriot Prayer event in the past. What's more, Gibson claims that if his June 4 permit is revoked, he won't be able to kick out troublemakers.
"Jeremy Christian has nothing to do with us and nothing to do with our movement."Permit or no permit, Gibson says that folks will be coming to Portland for the June 4 event, with many attendees heading to the alt-right rally from out of the area.
Gibson and his alt-right supporters are getting some unlikely support from the ACLU, too. According to the ACLU of Oregon, despite Mayor Wheeler's emotional and impassioned plea, the government can't take away (or refuse to grant) a permit simply because they don't like the opinion of demonstrators.
"Our hearts are broken, but government censorship is not the answer. We must defend the constitution even when it is uncomfortable."What do you think? Is Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler doing the right thing by attempting to shut down an upcoming alt-right rally in his city? Or, should all speech (even hate speech) be a Constitutionally-protected right? Let us know in the comments below.
[Featured Image by Gillian Flaccus/AP Images]