The city has encouraged far-right organizers of an open carry march on Sunday to apply for a permit.
A Facebook event page invited people to gather at 3 p.m. at Seaside Brewing Co. for a march through the city. Jimmy Griffin, the owner of the brewery, said he believes his business is being targeted because he was publicly critical of a far-right demonstration in early August where some of the participants displayed weapons.
“Not only does a permit form help the city and police department staff accordingly, but it also provides a key contact for open communication before and during events throughout the city,” Assistant City Manager Jon Rahl said in a statement Tuesday.
“Safety of citizens and visitors remains the highest priority while understanding and keeping in mind that individuals and groups have the right to peacefully assemble.”
Miles Rudduck, one of the organizers of the open carry march, could not immediately be reached for comment. His Facebook page and the event page disappeared from the social networking platform on Tuesday, along with comments Rudduck had posted on other Facebook pages.
In previous posts on Facebook, Rudduck and others have been confrontational toward Black Lives Matter protesters and people they perceive as anti-fascist — or antifa — activists.
“We will continue to carry as long as leftists are terrorizing and murdering people,” Rudduck wrote in a comment on the Seaside Signal’s Facebook page that has since disappeared.
Griffin, in a post on Seaside Brewing’s Facebook page Monday night, explained why he spoke out at a City Council meeting after the demonstration in early August. He said some of the participants were carrying weapons and families at the brewery were concerned for their safety.
A Milwaukie man who was photographed at the event displaying what appeared to be an AR-15-style rifle was arrested a few weeks later after allegedly shooting a handgun from the window of a car after a Portland protest.
“The next day the local paper wrote an article, detailing parts of that discussion at the council meeting, and almost immediately, the phone and internet threats began pouring in from this group and its supporters,” Griffin wrote. “An event was posted by this particular group from the rally threatening us and called for an open carry rally to take place at our brewery this upcoming Sunday in an obvious effort to intimidate, terrorize and punish the brewery for speaking up for our community’s safety and exercising our First Amendment rights to free speech.”
Griffin’s post, which had more than 2,200 comments and 9,900 shares as of Wednesday morning, urged people to avoid confrontation with demonstrators he said are clearly looking for a fight.
“We should be able to yell at each other, stand across the street and shout, get nose to nose, hug it out, argue with each other some more, and find a way to love each other at the end of it all, without making each other fear for our lives or safety,” he wrote. “None of those things are possible when loaded assault rifles and other weapons are involved in that exchange.”
Laura Allen, of North Coast Progressive Action, called for the city to place restrictions on the place and manner of the open carry march. “There’s no First Amendment protections for private property or for hate speech like taunts and threats to people of color, or for incitement to violence,” she said.
The city would not detail what plans, if any, police are taking to prepare if organizers follow through with the march this weekend. “As with all operational plans, the Seaside Police Department does not discuss its operational, patrol or strategic plans publicly, nor will it be doing so for any Labor Day weekend events,” Rahl said.
“Again, safety of our citizens and visitors is our highest priority while maintaining the rights of all.”