Police: Federal reinforcements necessary for alt-right rally following stabbing
PORTLAND, Ore. (KATU) -- Portland Police Chief Mike Marshman says the Federal Protective Service will bring in officers for Sunday's Patriot Prayer rally, which is expected to bring hundreds, if not thousands, of people to downtown Portland, Oregon.
The rally was organized by Joey Gibson, a Vancouver-based leader of the Patriot Prayer group. The event is being dubbed a "free speech rally meant to bring back strength and courage to those who believe in freedom."
The rally begins at 2 p.m. at Terry Schrunk Plaza and will feature an appearance by Kyle Chapman, a right-wing nationalist, arrested earlier this year on battery charges during a protest in Berkeley, California.
The event follows the fatal stabbing of two and injury of another aboard a local MAX train last week, in an attack the FBI is investigating as a possible hate crime.
Following the deaths, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler pleaded with the federal government to pull the group's permit to hold the rally. As the area is controlled by the federal government, city officials had no jurisdiction over the matter.
Following pushback from legal experts and the local chapter of the ACLU, however, the mayor backed down. Supporters of the rally say its participants are exercising their right to free speech; an activity local government should not stand in the way of.
In response to the Patriot Prayer event, an opposing group has organized a rally at the same time and place called "Mobilize Labor: Fascists Out of Portland."
In an interview with KATU News, Chief Marshman said the Federal Protective Service, a division of Homeland Security, will bring in extra officers for the Sunday rally as the park is federally owned.
"Since the federal government issued the permit there, I am thankful that they are going to bring in some extra federal protective service employees," Marshman said.
The police chief added that he spoke with Gibson, the leader of the rally, earlier this week.
"[Joey Gibson] said that he didn’t want any violence but they want to get their message out. Again, we are fine with that," Marshman said.
The Portland Police Bureau will also bring in extra officers in anticipation of thousands of people downtown Sunday afternoon -- people protesting and counter-protesting, as well as thousands of people attending Rose Festival activities.
"Hopefully everybody will leave downtown at the end of the day without any violence or injuries," Marshman said.
Representatives with Patriot Prayer have met with city officials regarding the protest.