ACLU defends alt-right freedom of speech in Portland
BY LIZZY ACKER
May 30, 2017
The American Civil Liberties Union is calling Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s decision to cancel right-wing gatherings in Portland unconstitutional, even though the position, on the surface, aligns the group with conservative organizations they frequently oppose.
On Monday, in the wake of a deadly attack on MAX allegedly by a man who was filmed doing a Nazi salute at an alt-right rally in April, Wheeler posted on Facebook and Twitter: “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,” he continued. “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.”
Wheeler’s announcement was greeted, unsurprisingly, with anger from the alt-right community, but pushback also came from ACLU, recently known for fighting President Donald Trump’s executive orderbanning travelers from six Muslim-majority countries, an order which is popular with the alt-right crowd.
Mat dos Santos, legal director at the ACLU of Oregon, said Thursday that what Wheeler is asking for from the federal government, and what he is doing himself by refusing permits, is unconstitutional.
“It was really troubling to hear Mayor Wheeler talking about how hate speech is not constitutionally protected,” dos Santos said, “because that is just legally wrong.”
The line between what is and isn’t protected in the constitution is clear, dos Santos said. It is the line between “concrete evidence of an imminent threat of violence” and everything else.
The ACLU believes it is important to keep this line solid, regardless of emotions or the side of the issue they may fall on, ideologically.
Read more at Oregon Live
Photo credit: Memorial at Hollywood Transit Center after MAX stabbings
A memorial of chalk messages, photographs, handwritten notes, flowers, candles and stuffed animals occupy the Hollywood Transit Center after Tuesday morning after Friday’s stabbing deaths and injuries of three Good Samaritans on a MAX train. Stephanie Yao Long/Staff