The mayor of Portland, Oregon, has called for an allegedly alt-right rally planned for Sunday to be banned from taking place.
Ted Wheeler, the Democrat mayor of the city, demanded that the federal government revoke a permit for the group Patriot Prayer to hold a meeting.
He argued that the event should be called off in the wake of a double murder on a train last week, allegedly by white supremacist Jeremy Christian.
However, free speech advocates said he shouldn’t be allowed to regulate political activity regardless of what other people do.
In a post on his Facebook page, Wheeler demanded that federal authorities revoke permission for the scheduled June 4th event – which is their responsibility because it takes place on federal land in Shrunk Plaza.
In a press conference yesterday, reported by local NBC affiliate KGW News, Wheeler said Patriot Prayer are not protected by the First Amendment because their event will constitute “hate speech”.
Organizer Joey Gibson rejected that characterization and said his event will promote “freedom and love”.
He vigorously denied any associated with Christian, and said they had kicked him out of a previous demonstration.
Free speech groups took Gibson’s side, including the local chapter of the ACLU.
In a statement, the group said: “The government cannot revoke or deny a permit based on the viewpoint of the demonstrators. Period.”
An initial narrative attempted to paint him as an alt-right devotee and a supporter of Donald Trump.
But further investigation revealed a bizarre mixture of (often contradictory) political positions, as well as claims by Christian that he is a nihilist, a fan of Black Lives Matter, and in the 2016 primaries cast his vote for Bernie Sanders.