Should alt-right events in the Northwest be canceled for public safety?
In Portland, Jeremy Christian now faces charges that include two counts of aggravated murder.
Witnesses say he was berating two girls on a Portland MAX train for the way they were dressed — one of them wearing a hijab — when three men tried to get him to back off. One of them was quoted as saying, “You need to get off this train.”
Christian was heard to say that he was getting off the train at the next stop, and that “if anyone followed, they were going to die.”
The men, according to a witness, tried to act as a barrier between Christian and the girls — at which point he pulled a knife — killing two of the man and wounding a third.
Christian had been seen at a right-wing “March for Free Speech” in Portland April 29 in the same city. He was seen holding a baseball bat to go after left-wing counter protesters.
This wasn’t an isolated incident, however. There have been a series of fights at free speech rallies, such as the one that featured Milo Yiannopoulos at the University of Washington, which resulted in shooting.
Now the mayor of Portland is asking that another rally — billed as a “Trump Free Speech Rally” — scheduled for Sunday is canceled.
The rally was announced on Facebook, featuring speakers that include, according to the invitation, Kyle Chapman who was arrested at a pro-Trump rally for hitting an anti-fascist protester over the head, a guy nicknamed Based Spartan (who usually shows up barechested with a helmet and American flag pants, and who made his name fighting left-wing protesters at Berkley), and a group called Warriors for Freedom.
The stated theme of the rally is to exercise free speech, but the counter protesters say it’s all about hate speech.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler says in the aftermath of the train attack, this rally would be a really bad idea.
“I’m appealing to the organizers of the alt-right events, to cancel the events that they’ve scheduled … I urge them to ask their supporters to stay away from Portland at this difficult time.”
These rallies have turned into fight club-style events between the radical left and the alt-right, and the mayor says that’s the last thing Portland needs.
“As appreciative as I am of the president sending his thoughts and prayers to the families this morning … We need more than thoughts and prayers right now. We need action.”
Wheeler called on the federal government to revoke any permits for the June 4 and June 10 events.
“Our city is in mourning. Our community’s anger is very real. And the timing and subject of these events can only exacerbate what is already a difficult situation,” he said.
However, the organizer of the “Trump Free Speech Rally Portland” refuses to cancel his event, and the ACLU of Oregon agreed on Twitter.
1. The government cannot revoke or deny a permit based on the viewpoint of the demonstrators. Period. https://t.co/P9gcNPAumH
— ACLU of Oregon (@ACLU_OR) May 29, 2017
On the other side, the left wing group Rose City Antifa — that’s short for anti-fascist — has announced their own Stand United Against Fascism Rally for the same day.
The surviving good Samaritan of the train attack, 21-year-old Micah Fletcher, has been released from the hospital and is recovering at home.
His neck was cut — the knife just missed a main artery.
The two who didn’t survive were Army Veteran and Portland City employee Rick Best, 53, father of four children; and Taliesin Namkai-Meche, 23. Taliesin Namkai-Meche was heard to say as he was taken off the train, “Tell everyone on this train I love them.”
Destinee Mangum, one of the girls they were trying to defend, spoke to FOX 12 Oregon and thanked them for saving her life.
“Without them, we’d probably be dead right now,” she said.
Three crowdfunding campaigns for the victims have topped $1 million. Another effort to raise money for necessities and mental health services for the two girls who were the subjects of the suspect’s alleged racial harassment has nearly reached $20,000.
A memorial at the MAX station drew residents from around the city, who brought flowers, cards, and wrote chalk messages on the station’s concrete steps.