The federal agency that issued a permit for a pro-Trump free speech rally in Portland planned for Sunday will not revoke the permit after Mayor Ted Wheeler called on the agency to do so.
Wheeler made the request in the wake of the double murder of two heroes protecting teens from racist and islamophobic vitriol on the MAX.
The United States General Services Administration announced Wednesday morning its decision to allow the event to continue, saying in a statement, “since the permit was lawfully obtained to assemble at this federal location, GSA has no basis to revoke the permit.”
The agency oversees the Terry Schrunk Plaza property across from Portland City Hall, where the rally is set to take place.
The organizer of Sunday’s event, Vancouver native Joey Gibson, said he plans to continue Sunday’s demonstration with or without a permit. Gibson applied for the permit on May 10 and received approval for his demonstration on May 15.
“It doesn’t matter what they do,” Gibson said. “We’ll be down there regardless.”
He added that revoking the permit would have posed a constitutional issue.
Wheeler called on the federal agency to “IMMEDIATELY REVOKE” the permit for Sunday’s demonstration and not to issue a permit for an anti-Muslim event scheduled for June 10 in a Facebook post Monday, saying the events could “only exacerbate an already difficult situation.”
The anti-Muslim demonstration organizer, Scott Presler, announced Wednesday that he would cancel the event, saying that Wheeler’s “inflammatory” requests to cancel protests could endanger people who might attend.
Wheeler’s request drew criticism from First Amendment advocates, the American Civil Liberties Union and local conservative leaders.
“I am a firm supporter of the First Amendment, no matter the views expressed,” Wheeler said in a statement about the feds’ decision Wednesday. “I believe we had a case to make about the threats to public safety posed by this rally at this place and at this time.”
The mayor said it’s his job to protect public safety. He urged organizers to “exercise common sense and to help us keep the peace.” Local and federal law enforcement will be present, he said.
“I urge everyone participating to reject violence,” Wheeler said. “Our city has seen enough.”
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