Brandon Chase/ABC News(PORTLAND, Ore.) — A week after a deadly stabbing on a commuter train in Portland, Oregon, demonstrators gathered downtown for a free speech rally in support of President Donald Trump, drawing a counterprotest on the opposite side of the street.
Police and Homeland Security officials were on hand in protective gear as both sides shouted back and forth at each other, while the scene remained mostly peaceful. Portland Police said officials were addressing a large crowd in a separate area after an unknown substance made people cough. Police tweeted that “those who have been identified as participating in criminal activity will be arrested.”
The rally was organized by the conservative group Patriot Prayer, according to ABC affiliate KATU-TV, and scheduled before two men were allegedly killed by a man who police said shouted anti-Muslim slurs before stabbing them to death.
Event organizer Joey Gibson called for a moment of silence, KATU-TV reports, to remember the victims of the attack– Ricky John Best, 53, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, 23, and 21-year-old Micah Fletcher who survived.
“Sooner than later we must start spreading love to get rid of this hate,” Gibson said. “I just don’t know where it’s going to start, but today could be a great start.”
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler called for the free-speech rally to be canceled in wake of the attack and attempted to get the event’s permit pulled. The United States General Services Administration announced this week there was “no basis” to revoke it.
Gibson said according to KATU-TV that the mayor’s request hindered his right to free speech.
Eric Issacson, who came out to join the anti-Trump protesters in opposition of the rally, disagreed.
“They call it freedom of speech, but really it’s implied threat,” he said. “When you start to talk about hate and you start to talk about… how people don’t have a right to be in this country, or don’t have a right to exist, that’s the same as saying an implied threat.”
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