Portland mayor calls for cancellation of free-speech rally

Posted June 02, 2017

The mayor of Portland, Oregon, is calling on federal authorities to cancel a pair of upcoming rallies organized by conservative groups, saying the city was still "in shock" after two men were fatally stabbed on a commuter train Friday while fending off a man shouting anti-Muslim slurs.

Mayor Ted Wheeler on Monday called on the federal government to revoke the permit for a rally set for Sunday, and to deny permission for a second rally on June 10. "Given where this city is now, in terms of the mourning we're going through collectively, the anger that is currently focused on what I would describe as the alt-right, this is not the right time for those groups to come into our community and hold a rally".

Jeremy Joseph Christian, the man arraigned for killing the two people on the train, was reportedly heard yelling to court staff about his right to "free speech" and said he was "concerned about free speech in Portland". "The federal government controls permitting for Shrunk Plaza, and it is my understanding they have issued a permit for the event on June 4th", Wheeler said. We did everything we could to kick him out. At one point, Christian blurts a racial epithet, according to the video from reporter Doug Brown of The Portland Mercury weekly newspaper show. "Police confiscated a baseball bat Christian took to the rally". He is charged with aggravated murder, attempted murder and other charges. The aggravated murder charges have the death penalty as a possible sentence.

Asha Deliverance's son, 23-year-old Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, was one of the two men who died. Micah David-Cole Fletcher, 21, of Portland, was also stabbed and seriously injured.

Earlier, in an interview with CNN, Wheeler called the three men heroes.

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When asked if he identified with Wheeler's "alt-right" description, Gibson said: "When someone can explain to me what alt-right means, I'll answer it. I'm a libertarian. I'm not right wing, I'm for gay marriage, I'm against the drug wars". Clashes between black-clad "antifa", or anti-fascist, activists and right-wing protesters associated with white nationalist movements have become increasingly common at otherwise peaceful demonstrations.

Gibson said he will not cancel the June 4 rally. The most recent example was the stunt by comedian Kathy Griffin, who evidently thought it was humorous to portray the beheading of an American president.

The June 10 protest is called #MarchAgainstSharia, KATU reported.

The American Civil Liberties Union of OR criticized the mayor's attempts to shut down both rallies, saying the government can't revoke OR deny a permit based on the demonstrators' views. Unless there is an imminent threat of violence, speech must be protected even if we disagree with it, and it is the duty of any mayor to uphold that ethos. It is the fundamental freedom upholding democracy.