This post has been updated.
The organizers behind a "Portland March Against Sharia" scheduled for June 10 have canceled the event, opting instead to move it to Seattle.
The move comes days after a double murder on a MAX train that left the city hurt and angry over extremist views being aired in public with growing frequency, and in response to Mayor Ted Wheeler's call for the organizers to voluntarily call off the march.
At the same time, the organizers of an alt-right-oriented free speech rally still have a legitimate permit to hold the event at downtown's Terry Schrunk Plaza on Sunday. The US General Services Administration, which manages the space, this afternoon announced it wasn't heeding Wheeler's request that it revoke that permit, saying: "All rules and regulations were followed by the applicant for the permit, including the timeframe for review. Since the permit was lawfully obtained to assemble at this federal location, GSA has no basis to revoke the permit."
That outcome had been expected, after vociferous concerns raised by the ACLU of Oregon and others that Wheeler's request would have trampled free speech rights. Wheeler, in a statement, stood by his request for prior restraint.
"I am a firm supporter of the First Amendment, no matter the views expressed," he said. "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. My job is to protect the safety of everyone... protesters, counter-protesters, and bystanders alike."
The cancellation of the June 10 march was more surprising.
In an announcement on the event's Facebook page this morning, a strategist for the group ACT for America which is promoting similar events around the country, said Wheeler had been irresponsible in his characterization of the event as "alt-right". The conservative organization is fond of calling itself the "NRA of national security" and pushes issues like border security and increased domestic oil production. The Southern Poverty Law Center calls it "far and away the largest grassroots anti-Muslim group in America."
"Due to Mayor Wheeler's inflammatory comments and what we feel is an incitement of violence, he has shamefully endangered every scheduled participant," the statement reads. "Consequently, in order to ensure the safety of those who had planned on attending, we have taken the decision to cancel the Portland March Against Sharia."
Wheeler had also asked the organizer of the rally planed for Sunday, June 4—a Vancouver resident named Joey GIbson— to voluntarily pull back his permitted event. Gibson has said he will not do so. He is planning to host a number of popular alt-right personalities at the rally, including a online troll who goes by "Baked Alaska".
Since the free speech rally will be on federal property, federal security forces will be on hand. Some in City Hall have suggested the event might also be subject to stricter laws than it would be were it in a city park.
But the event will also almost certainly attract a large contingent of counter-demonstrators—a big reason for Wheeler's queasiness. Rose City Antifa and labor-backed groups are calling for a "stop the fascists" action this Sunday in response. Wheeler and other city officials were in meetings yesterday with law enforcement at the local and federal level to coordinate a response.
"GSA and Federal Protective Services (FPS) are working closely with the City of Portland law enforcement and the Mayor’s Office to prepare for the June 4 event," the government's release says.
Here's the full announcement from ACT for America about its canceled event. .