Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler is calling on federal officials and event organizers to cancel an upcoming “Trump Free Speech Rally” and other similar pro-Trump, pro-First Amendment events. His rationale: the participants might be “coming to peddle a message of hatred,” citing the fatal stabbing of two men by a convicted felon with an affinity for Nazi propaganda as an example of the results of such hatred.
The Associated Press reports that on Friday two men, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, 23, and Ricky John Best, 53, were stabbed to death when they attempted to stop Jeremy Joseph Christian from harassing two women, one of whom was wearing a hijab. Authorities say Christian, whose social media posts, AP notes, “indicate an affinity for Nazis and political violence,” grew violent when Meche and Best tried to intervene during an anti-Muslim tirade directed at the two women. Christian fatally stabbed both men and injured another and is now “accused of aggravated murder, intimidation — the state equivalent of a hate crime — and being a felon in possession of a weapon.”
Using the horrific attack as part of his argument for shutting down future free speech events, particularly the “Trump Free Speech Rally” scheduled for June 4, Mayor Wheeler said he hopes the death of the two men “changes the political dialogue in this country.”
“I hope we rise to the memory of these two gentlemen who lost their lives,” said the mayor. “Let’s do them honor by standing with them and carrying on their legacy of standing up to hate and bigotry and violence.”
On Monday, President Trump condemned the double stabbing, tweeting, “The violent attacks in Portland on Friday are unacceptable. The victims were standing up to hate and intolerance. Our prayers are w/ them.”
Wheeler, however, was not satisfied, saying it was time for action rather than just words. “Standing up to hate,” the mayor suggested, required shutting down free speech events organized by people with questionable intent.
A Facebook page promoting the rally, which has already received a permit by the federal government, provides the following description:
PATRIOT PRAYER-JOEY GIBSON
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.
“Based Stickman” is the name the alt-right has given Kyle Chapman, a 41-year-old self-described American nationalist who became famous for fighting with the violence-prone Antifa (“Anti-Fascist”) demonstrators at a March 4 rally-turned-melee at the University of California, Berkeley. Chapman was arrested for his actions, as were several Antifa rioters. Here’s an excerpt from The New Republic‘s piece on Chapman’s rise to fame (which attempts to portray him as “a run-of-the-mill Donald Trump supporter”):
In a video posted on Facebook on March 27 by Kyle Chapman, the camera pans across what can only be described as a DIY armory: Baseball helmet, ski goggles, shin guards, face mask, wooden shield, flag pole. “The benefit of the baseball helmet is that you have holes where the ears are,” Chapman tells his viewers. “This allows you to hear what’s going on around you.” The helmet is emblazoned with a decal reading molon labe (“come and take them”), the Second Amendment rallying cry borrowed from ancient Sparta. Chapman also recommends going to Home Depot, where one can find a wooden table top for just $25 to fashion into a homemade buckler.
Chapman made the video in response to a barrage of inquiries into his riot gear, which was on full display when he fought anti-fascist protesters (sometimes collectively referred to as Antifa) at the University of California, Berkeley, in early March. Before then, he had been a relative unknown. A 41-year-old commercial diver living in the Bay Area, Chapman told the New Republic that he “doesn’t really care for social media or the internet.” But on March 4, a video of Chapman breaking a wooden sign post over the head of an Antifa activist went viral, quickly launching him to fame as the subject of a new alt-right meme: “Based Stickman.”
Chapman’s a violence-promoting thug and Christian is a suspected murderer who will pay for his heinous deeds if convicted. However, this does not excuse Mayor Wheeler’s blanket call for officials to shut down future pro-Trump, pro-First Amendment rallies, which uses the likes of Chapman and Christian — the very worst of the right — as a means of silencing all of those on the ideological right, the vast majority of whom, of course, utterly reject violence. Shutting down free speech out of fear that some may be “coming to peddle a message of hatred,” and declaring that subjectively determined “hate speech” is not protected by the Constitution, and flies in the face of the First Amendment.