Portland, Oregon, Mayor Ted Wheeler has called on the federal government to revoke an already-issued permit for what he believes is an "alt-right" protest scheduled to take place in the city on Sunday.
Wheeler attempted to prevent the protesters from obtaining the appropriate city permits to hold the rally, instructing the city council not to approve any permits for "alt-right" protests on Sunday or June 10. But since the Trump Free Speech Rally Portland will take place on federal property, permits for protest on the property are controlled by the federal government, which has already approved them.
"My concern is they're coming here to peddle a message of hatred and bigotry," Wheeler said Monday during a news conference. "They have a First Amendment right to speak, but hate speech is not protected."
Wheeler's view that "hate speech is not protected" by the First Amendment was unanimously rejected by the Supreme Court as recently as 2010, which explicitly ruled in the case of Christian Legal Society v. Martinez that hate speech and/or discriminatory speech is, in fact, protected speech under the Constitution.
Washington resident Joey Gibson, who organized the rally on Sunday, has also scheduled a #MarchAgainstSharia rally in the same location on June 10. Gibson has reportedly invited alt-right protester Kyle Chapman, who made headlines when he was arrested in Berkeley, California, after allegedly striking a left-wing protester in the head with a signpost, according to KATU.
"I am calling on the federal government to IMMEDIATELY REVOKE the permits(s) they have issued for the June 4th event and to not issue a permit for June 4th event and to not issue a permit for June 10th," Wheeler said in a statement. "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."
His statement comes mere days after two men were killed and one was injured aboard a MAX train in Portland Friday night after an incident police are investigating as a hate crime. The men were stabbed multiple times after coming to the defense of two Muslim women targeted by a man hurling hateful insults toward them.
"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," Wheeler said.
Gibson responded to Wheeler's request Monday, insisting he won't cancel the event, and warning that without the structure he plans to provide for the rally, the protests will likely spin out of control.
"Mayor Wheeler will not convince me to cancel the rally. I will not do that for several reasons,” he said in a post on his Facebook page. “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."
"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."
The ACLU of Oregon tweeted in defense of the alt-right rally, telling Wheeler the government did not have the power to discriminate against the organizers because of their political beliefs.
"The government cannot revoke or deny a permit based on the viewpoint of the demonstrators. Period," the organization wrote on Monday.