Following a fatal anti-Muslim incident on Friday, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler (not pictured) has called on the federal government to revoke demonstration permits for "alt-right events." The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon said it rejected Wheeler's call as an attack against free speech. File Photo by Khaled Sayed/UPI | License Photo
May 30 (UPI) -- Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has called on the federal government to revoke demonstration permits for "alt-right events" following the fatal stabbings of two people who tried to stop a man's Islamophobic diatribe.
Portland Police charged 35-year-old Jeremy Joseph Christian for the deaths of Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, a 23-year-old recent college graduate, and Rick John Best, a 53-year-old U.S. Army veteran and father of four, after the stabbings on Friday. A third man, Micah David-Cole Fletcher, was injured.
The three men intervened when Christian allegedly started yelling hate speech in a tirade aimed at two Muslim women, one of whom was wearing a hijab, police said.
"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," Wheeler said in a statement on Monday. "I have offered my unconditional assistance and support, day or night."
Christian is scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday. He was charged with two counts of aggravated murder, attempted murder, intimidation and being a felon in possession of a restricted weapon.
The fatal stabbings aboard a train generated an outcry of support for the victims and condemnation against the anti-Muslim sentiment, including from the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
In an attempt to quell any further confrontations from occurring, Wheeler said he called on the federal government to revoke an assembly permit issued for Sunday for an "alt-right" event.
"Our city is in mourning and our community's anger is real, and the timing and subject of these events can only exacerbate an already difficult situation," Wheeler wrote in a statement published on Twitter.
Short for alternative right, alt-right is a largely uncoordinated political movement that rejects political mainstream ideology and has been likened to extremist sentiments such as neo-Nazism.
"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 they have issued a permit for the event on June 4th," Wheeler said. "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."
The protest on Sunday is called the Trump Free Speech Rally in support of President Donald Trump and the First Amendment. The June 10th protest is called Portland March Against Sharia, which says Islam's Sharia form of law is incompatible "with our Constitution and American values."
The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon said it rejected Wheeler's call as an attack against free speech.
"It may be tempting to shut down speech we disagree with, but once we allow the government to decide what we can say, see, or hear, or who we can gather with history shows us that the most marginalized will be disproportionately censored and punished for unpopular speech," the ACLU of Oregon wrote on Twitter. "We are all free to reject and protest ideas we don't agree with. That is a core, fundamental freedom of the United States. If we allow the government to shut down speech for some, we all will pay the price down the line."