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ACLU defends alt-right freedom of speech in Portland

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





  1. Sometimes I really don’t know what to make of the ACLU. Most of the time they sound like a pariot of the SPLC and others like they are allies in the trenches, I would love to hear what you all think, maybe give me some clarity.

    1. They are leftists, and are out to lunch on freedom of religion, but they are actually very strong on freedom of speech and assembly, and also generally good on due process too. Have been for a very long time. Odd mix. Right wingers are also inconsistent, so maybe we can just chalk it up to both the flawed left/right paradigm and also flawed human nature. We must strive to be as consistent as we can as flawed human beings, under the duty of our oath, but it is an uphill fight for us all (though I believe that most of us here are at least sincere about our intent, as opposed to the far left Marxists who really are not – they see parts of the Constitution as convenient and useful until they achieve their glorious Marxist revolution, then watch out!).


    2. Charlie,
      I have to agree with Stewart, 110%. ACLU is all over the place. Sometimes they can be counted on, and other times they will backstab you. Just depends on the issue. I for one do not choose to ally myself with anyone who would stab me in the back, no matter how good they were at other times. To my mind, if the situation is such that allies are needed, it is better to have fewer, than to have turncoats in our midst.
      Many years ago, thinking they were standing for the rule of law, I joined as a dues paying member.
      Big mistake! Why? Because upon learning that they could not be counted on when things got tough, or on certain issues, I let my membership expire.
      Like I said, that was YEARS AGO, yet I still get at least one letter from them in my mailbox every month. Sometimes two. Cajoling and or haranguing me to renew my membership. I’ve even spoken with representatives from ACLU National Office, and explained why I choose to no longer be a member, hoping to abate the annoying green envelopes every month, but it was to no avail.
      I might as well have been talking to one of the cats that hang around my place.
      I have seriously considered taping a brick to the postage guaranteed return envelope to see if that would stop the monthly onslaught. In fact, I’m still considering it, I just have never got around to looking into the US Postal laws to make sure I wouldn’t be getting myself a visit from some federal officer.
      Perhaps I’ll just stuff a bunch of other junk mail in their envelope and see what effect that has. I’ve done that before and had good results without any knocks on my door.
      My advice? Steer clear of them and be thankful once in awhile that they did something right. If you ever send them any money, or respond to their snail mails in any way, you will get at least one letter a month from them, for the rest of your life.

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