The Jury Talks Back

5/30/2017

Mayor of Portland: Speech For Me, But Not For Thee

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 8:18 am

[guest post by Dana]

In the aftermath of Friday’s horrific knife attack on a Portland train that left two courageous men dead and a third hospitalized after heroically attempting to defend two young women from a deranged individual, Portland mayor Ted Wheeler is requesting the federal government shut down the scheduled “Trump Free Speech Rally,” or in the words of Mayor Wheeler, the “alt-right rally” in his city on June 4. There is also another not-yet-approved “March Against Sharia” rally on June 10, for which the mayor also wants permits denied. From Mayor Wheeler’s Facebook page:

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.

Mayor Wheeler is openly advocating that protected speech by Americans be quashed because he disagrees with what they believe. This same mayor seeks to use the power of the federal government to deny a group their right to exercise speech, hateful or not. Shame on an elected official believing this is justified. And shame on the mayor of Portland for willfully ignoring the Oregon State Constitution:

Freedom of speech and press. No law shall be passed restraining the free expression of opinion, or restricting the right to speak, write, or print freely on any subject whatever; but every person shall be responsible for the abuse of this right.

But mostly, shame on the residents of Portland for not calling out their mayor on such a significant misstep. For truly, if the mayor is that concerned about a pro-Trump rally increasing tensions in an already tense situation, why not just provide more security? One might be inclined to ask, exactly why has it become increasingly difficult for law enforcement to effectively do their jobs when faced with protests these days?

The Washington Post, in a report incredibly and ironically titled,”Portland mayor asks feds to bar free-speech and anti-sharia rallies after stabbings,” notes that the Oregon ACLU opposes the mayor’s request:

The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon criticized the mayor’s attempts to shut down both rallies, saying the government can’t revoke or deny a permit based on the demonstrators’ views.

“It may be tempting to shut down speech we disagree with,” the ACLU tweeted, “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.”

“If we allow the government to shut down speech for some, we all will pay the price down the line,” the organization added.

According to the Washington Post’s go-to guy for clarification, Tom Hastings, “a longtime activist and professor in the Portland State University conflict resolution program,”:

[T]he mayor was on solid footing. The looming threat of violence at the rallies justified a shutdown while the city worked out a long-term solution, he said.

“I know these lines are perceived as pretty fuzzy when we’re dealing with constitutional First Amendment rights,” Hastings told The Washington Post. “But there’s no long fuse anymore. Everybody’s fuse seems to be quite short.”

The mayor’s spokesman, Michael Cox rationalized the mayor’s position this way:

“The mayor is not seeking to limit the content of speech. “He is seeking to prevent violence.”

Further, the Mayor Wheeler gave this statement to Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB):

“The current political climate allows far too much room for those who spread bigotry”

Indeed it does.

–Dana

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