Portland Mayor Wants to Block Alt-Right Rallies After Fatal Stabbing

"Our city is in mourning, our community's anger is real."

|
May 30 2017, 1:37pm

AP Photo/Don Ryan

Ted Wheeler, the mayor of Portland, Oregon, is trying to get a pair of upcoming rallies in the city canceled after two men were stabbed to death on Friday trying to protect Muslim women from a man shouting Islamophobic remarks, local station KATU reports.

The suspect in the stabbings, 35-year-old Jeremy Joseph Christian, was allegedly using hate speech against two Muslim women on a public light-rail train when a few passengers intervened and tried to calm him down. Christian then reportedly pulled out a knife and stabbed and killed 23-year-old Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche and 53-year-old Ricky John Best. Micah David-Cole Fletcher, 21, was also stabbed and treated for injuries.

Christian, who's been charged with aggravated and attempted murder, is allegedly a "known white supremacist," according to the Washington Post. He's reportedly been to a few alt-right rallies, as well as some held by Patriot Prayer, the same conservative group organizing one upcoming protest in the city. Christian was filmed using hate speech and the Nazi salute at rally back in April, according to the New York Times.

Now, in the wake of the recent killings, Wheeler wants the federal government to block Patriot Prayer's "Trump Free Speech Rally" planned for June 4, and a "March Against Sharia," planned for June 10 because it has jurisdiction over Terry Schrunk Plaza, where the protests are set to take place. Wheeler said that the city of Portland would not be issuing permits to the organizers of the events.

"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," Wheeler said in a Facebook post. "My concern is they're coming here to peddle a message of hatred and bigotry. They have a First Amendment right to speak, but hate speech is not protected," he later said at a press conference.

Despite the fact that Portland has seen violent outbursts at otherwise peaceful protests since the election, Oregon's ACLU condemned the mayor's call on Monday with a series of tweets. The organization argued that the government can't just shut down a rally based solely on the views of the protesters.

For his part, Joey Gibson, an organizer involved in both rallies, said he wouldn't cancel the protests based on the mayor's plea.

"If they pull our permits, we cannot kick out the white supremacists, we cannot kick out the Nazis," he said in a video on Facebook. "Our speakers aren't going to be filled with any hate."

More VICE
Vice Channels