Days after two men were killed while trying to stop a white supremacist harassing two women on a Portland city bus, the city’s mayor asked organizers of an upcoming pro-Donald Trump “free speech rally” to cancel their event for fear of further racial animus.
Citing concerns that rally attendees are “coming to peddle a message of hatred,” Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said on Monday that he hopes the killings of Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, 23, and Ricky Best, 53, would lead to “changes in the political dialogue in this country.” Meche and Best were stabbed to death on Friday while trying to intervene when a suspect, identified as Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, allegedly began verbally assaulting a teenager with Islamophobic hate speech. A third man, Micah David-Cole Fletcher, 21, was also seriously injured during the incident.
“I hope we rise to the memory of these two gentlemen who lost their lives,” Wheeler said. “Let’s do them honor by standing with them and carrying on their legacy of standing up to hate and bigotry and violence.”
On Facebook, Mayor Wheeler explained while no city permits have been granted for two upcoming events organized by the so-called alt-right, a federal permit for a June 4 rally has already been issued. A second event, scheduled for June 1o, had not received any federal permits yet, according to Wheeler.
“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.
“I am appealing to the organizers of the alt-right demonstrations to CANCEL the events they have scheduled on June 4th and June 10th,” Wheeler continued in the Facebook post. “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.”
On the Facebook page for the June 4 event, organizers describe the rally as a:
Free Speech Rally with BASED STICKMAN, BASED SPARTAN, PATRIOT GIRL, WARRIORS FOR FREEDOM, AND MANY OTHERS IN DOWNTOWN PORTLAND...one of the most liberal areas on the West Coast. There will be speakers exercising their free speech, live music, flags, and an uplifting experience to bring back strength and courage to those who believe in freedom.
Thank you Trump for all you have done.
Despite Mayor Wheeler’s call for calm, the head of Portland’s Multnomah County Republican party suggested he would turn to militia groups for security at upcoming GOP events.
“I am sort of evolving to the point where I think that it is appropriate for Republicans to continue to go out there,” Multnomah County GOP Chair James Buchal told The Guardian. “And if they need to have a security force protecting them, that’s an appropriate thing too.”
Buchal went on to cite the right-wing Oath Keepers and Three Percenters militia groups—both described by the Anti-Defamation League as “part of an anti-government extremist movement that has grown since President Obama took office”—as potential security partners.
Destinee Mangum, one of the woman targeted in the attack, issued a short, emotional thank you to Meche, Best, and Fletcher over the weekend, telling local station KLTV: “I just want to say thank you to the people who put their life on the line for me, because they didn’t even know me”
“[They] lost their life because of me and my friend,” Magnum continued. “And the way we look.”