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Mayor Wheeler wants federal gov't to pull permit for alt-right protest on June 4

Mayor Ted Wheeler news conference on May 29, 2017

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has called for the federal government to pull its permit for an alt-right protest scheduled for next Sunday, June 4.

"Trump Free Speech Rally Portland" is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. at federally controlled Terry Schrunk Plaza in downtown Portland.

Another protest called #MarchAgainstSharia is scheduled for Saturday, June 10, also at the Terry Schrunk Plaza.

Joey Gibson, a Vancouver resident and video blogger, is organizing both gatherings. He has invited Kyle Chapman, an online celebrity known as "Based Stickman," to the June 4 rally. Chapman was arrested at a Berkeley, California rally earlier this year on charges of suspected felony assault when he allegedly hit a left-wing protester in the head with a signpost.

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

The ACLU of Oregon tweeted the mayor cannot revoke or deny a permit "based on the viewpoint of the demonstrators ... we are all free to reject and protest ideas we don't agree with. That is a core, fundamental freedom of the United States."

The "alt-right" group has pledged to fight "antifa," a group of militant leftists. KATU's news partners at Willamette Week wrote an in-depth piece explaining what each group stands for and why they've taken to Portland's streets to fight each other.

Mayor Wheeler's statement comes several days after two men were killed and another was injured aboard a MAX train. A man named Jeremy Christian was arrested on murder, attempted murder and hate crime charges. The FBI is working to determine whether the attack classifies as a federal hate crime or domestic terrorism.

Wheeler says he has asked the city of Portland not to issue any permits for alt-right protests on June 4 or June 10. But the June 4 rally is being held at Schrunk Plaza, which the federal government controls.

"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 wrote.

During an afternoon news conference, he praised the men who stood up against the accused attacker.

Rick Best, 53, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, 23, died in the attack. Micah Fletcher, 21, remains hospitalized with serious injuries.

"They will service for many generations to come to inspire us to be loving and courageous people. That's what we are meant to be," Wheeler said. "They were willing to give it all. Two of them did, and a third lays in a hospital. That's inspiring me, too."

READ MORE: 'He couldn’t just stand by and do nothing': MAX stabbing hero's son

After Wheeler made the announcement, in a Facebook post Gibson rejected the mayor's call for the federal government to pull his group's permit, citing his right to free speech and suggesting that if the event is not permitted it could get out of control.

“Mayor Wheeler will not convince me to cancel the rally. I will not do that for several reasons,” he said. “One reason is that if I cancel this rally and if we don’t have a permit, you’re talking about hundreds of people just showing up in the park with no leadership, no voice of reason, nothing.”

He added that if he canceled the event, his group would not be able to control who comes in and out of the park.

“If they pull our permits, we cannot kick out the white supremacists, we cannot kick out the Nazis,” he said.

“Our speakers aren’t going to be filled with any hate,” Gibson said.

He said his group has nothing to do with the stabbing suspect.

Here's Mayor Wheeler's full statement:

On Friday three men Rick Best, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, and Micah Fletcher stood up against bigotry and hatred. Two paid with their lives. A third was seriously injured.

Our community remains in shock and mourning. But we are also tremendously grateful to our heroes and their families for their selflessness and heroism. They will serve to inspire us to be the loving, courageous people we are meant to be.

As Mayor, I wanted to update you on a few developments:

1) I have reached out to all of the victims and their families, including the two women who were terrorized and subjected to such hatred and bigotry. I have offered my unconditional assistance and support, day or night.

2) I have confirmed that the City of Portland has NOT and will not issue any permits for the alt right events scheduled on June 4th or June 10th. The Federal government controls permitting for Shrunk Plaza, and it is my understanding that they have issued a permit for the event on June 4th.

3) 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.

4) I am appealing to the organizers of the alt-right demonstrations to CANCEL the events they have scheduled on June 4th and June 10th. I urge them to ask their supporters to stay away from Portland. There is never a place for bigotry or hatred in our community, and especially not now.

5) I am calling on every elected leader in Oregon, every legal agency, every level of law enforcement to stand with me in preventing another tragedy.

6) When and if the time is right for them, I would like to work with the families to find an appropriate way to permanently remember their sacrifice and honor their courage. Their heroism is now part of the legacy of this great city and I want future generations to remember what happened here, and why, so that it might serve to both eradicate hatred and inspire future generations to stand up for the right values like Rick, Taliesin, and Micah did last week.

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