Dueling Sunday rallies planned in Portland in wake of double murder

Jeremy Joseph Christian is accused of killing two men and injuring another on a train in Portland last week with "what would best be characterized as hate speech toward a variety of ethnicities and religions," Portland police said. Far-right activists and counter protests are planned in Portland on Sunday. Photo courtesy of Multnomah County Sheriff's Office/EPA

June 4 (UPI) — Alt-right supporters and counter protesters plan rallies Sunday in Portland, Ore., one week after two men were killed trying to defend two Muslim train riders.

Portland police, the FBI and U.S. Homeland Security are planning a big presence during the opposing protests in downtown Portland.

A “Trump Free Speech Rally” organized by the Patriot Prayer group is scheduled for 2 p.m. and anti-fascist chapters are planning a counter demonstration nearby. Two rallies in opposition to the Patriot Prayer demonstration are scheduled for earlier in the afternoon.

Last week, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler asked on the federal government to revoke the Pro-Trump rally’s permit but the government declined, saying there was “no basis” to recall the protest permit.

Jeremy Joseph Christian, the 35-year-old man accused of stabbing and killing two people and injuring another on a MAX train a little over a week ago, had appeared at a protest on April 29 in Portland,

“We don’t want any fighting,” Margie Fletcher, the mother of a man wounded last week on a Portland train said to CNN. “We hope and pray that both sides try to keep in mind that in the big picture it might be easy to forget with all the emotions running high that we all have the same basic needs.”

Fletcher and the two others were killed after trying to defend the two women from “what would best be characterized as hate speech toward a variety of ethnicities and religions,” Portland police said.

When Christian was arraigned Tuesday, he yelled: “Get out if you don’t like free speech!” and “You call it terrorism; I call it patriotism. You hear me? Die.”

Portland’s mayor called on protest organizer Joey Gibson to postpone his 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.

Gibson told CNN that Patriot Prayer will have its own security at the rally.

“Every single time I throw a rally, every single march, it’s the same thing,” Gibson said Wednesday. “That what I’m going to do is dangerous, what I’m going to do is dangerous for the city because we are going to provoke other people to be violent against us.”

His group — which he said isn’t racist or alt-right — shouldn’t be held responsible for the actions of counter-demonstrators.

Authorities warned people not to bring weapons or anything that can be perceived as a possible weapon at the events.

“We’re going to have the groups come downtown and do our best to keep them separated,” Portland police chief Mike Marshmann said to CNN. “Have their events go as planned, and hopefully everybody goes home safe and won’t be injured.”

Portland police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson said police are planning a robust presence Sunday, partly due to online threats of violence between some of the groups.

“We recognize the tension between these groups, we recognize the threatening speech going back and forth and certainly the entire community is trying to process what happened last week,” Simpson said to KGW-TV.


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