Free Speech

"The City Cannot … Prospectively Try[] to Guess Whether Certain [Speakers] … Will … Create a Disturbance"

Spokane Valley (Wash.) resists groups' letter opposing event put on by speaker who has at times drawn unruly supporters.


KXLY-TV (Hawk Hammer) reports that various groups have written to the City of Spokane Valley expressing concern about a rally led by one Joey Gibson, a Senate candidate, which will be held Sunday at a city-owned event center:

Joey Gibson's organization, Patriot Prayer, is a far-right fringe organization mostly known for fights at its rallies…. [A]ssaults and arrests were reported at Patriot Prayer events throughout summer 2017….

While Gibson has claimed to exclude white nationalist and white supremacist groups from his Patriot Prayer rallies, members of these groups show up regularly. Patriot Prayer is openly organizing with multiple white nationalist—and even self-declared "national socialist"—groups for an "Oregon Nationalist Summer" in summer 2018….

The current Facebook description of the March 25th rally (as of March 16th) includes plans for a "rally with a march after." This despite the fact that CenterPlace informed us March 12th that the rally organizer, Lesley Haskell, has not secured a permit for a march. On March 13th Haskell stated "the march […] has been taken off the table" but has not altered the event to inform attendees. Haskell (who has her own history of Islamophobic and anti-Black comments) also disavows responsibility for "those that may show up and attempt to create an environment of chaos, fear, dangerous behavior" and warns that "we who are involved with Mr. Gibson and this rally are not responsible for their actions." Considering the extremist groups with whom Gibson routinely allies, this is a dangerously irresponsible statement. The community also deserves to know the identity and qualifications of Haskell's "security team who has experience in handling situations involving protesters." Haskell and Gibson need to take responsibility for public safety before, during, and after their rally on Sunday the 25th.

These questions are particularly urgent considering the rally venue. CenterPlace is part of a Spokane Valley complex with a family atmosphere, including a YMCA with a pool and climbing wall, a popular playground, and a major public park. CenterPlace is also owned by the City of Spokane Valley and managed by the City of Spokane Valley Parks and Recreation Department. This publicly owned community resource has the mission "to build community identity" and "to serve the needs of a diverse and growing Northwest region." How is this mission fulfilled by hosting a group notorious for fomenting violence?

In sum, we question the time, venue, and safety of this rally. When extremists enter the heart of our community, they have the right to spew their hate. It remains ill-advised for them to disrupt and endanger our community with poorly conceived events that are likely to result in avowed Neo-Nazis rubbing shoulders with families at a playground.

The City responded:

The City of Spokane Valley rents space at CenterPlace Regional Event Center to individuals and groups from the community who are looking for quality meeting space. The City does this in a non-discriminatory fashion for anyone requesting space and who agrees to the City's terms of use. The City cannot be in a position of prospectively trying to guess whether certain renters of the facility will break the rules or create a disturbance. If the City gains information that suggests that may be the case, we will react accordingly and attempt to put appropriate plans in place to try to ensure that the use of the City facility is lawful and peaceful. The City of Spokane Valley and its elected leadership are strong proponents of the First Amendment and the right of citizens to express themselves in lawful ways.

The City has received calls from members of the community expressing concern about the City's rental of CenterPlace to the Northwest Grassroots Alliance for this event. Staff and the Spokane Valley Police Department are working to identify and hopefully resolve any issues that may come up. Spokane Valley urges the meeting participants and other members of the public who may show up to exhibit decorum and tolerance in all discussions that revolve around this event.

The City's position strikes me as quite correct, and indeed mandated by the First Amendment, once they open up space for members of the public to rent.

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  1. “mostly known for fights at its rallies”

    Fights among their supporters, or between supporters and hecklers? Fights at whose instigation?

    1. Probably Antifa.

      The dark cloud of fascism is always descending upon Republicans but it always turns out to be composed of progressives and Democrats.

      Antifa: The Rise of the Violent Left – by The Atlantic


      Antifa’s violent tactics have elicited substantial support from the mainstream left.

      1. 1. ‘Probably Antifa’ is pretty lame narritivism

        2. Did you read what you linked? The right comes off worse than the left in that article.

        1. “The right comes off worse than the left in that article.”

          You may wish to take another look at the article.

          1. He considers fringe non liberals to be mainstream right, so the two cases in the article that were not Antifa count as mainstream right actions, despite the article only mentioning the left as supporting the violence from their fringe antifa groups.

            He will also blatantly not consider the Bernie Sander’s supporting knife attacks as part of the left even though the Atlantic had to reach back to two similar attacks in order to show the violence “antifa is responding” to.

            He will also ignore the fact that Antifa shuts down fairly centrist speakers quite a bit of the time and do not only direct their violence towards fringe elements of the right.

            1. Just verified, Jeremy Christian was the name from the Atlantic article that they credited to the right wing… but he was actually the bernie sander’s supporter I mentioned.

        2. Yes… assuming it is a group who very publicly promotes violence as a means to counter speech they disagree with is a baseless assumption, especially with the dozens of examples of their counter protests resorting to violence over the last 2 years. Who would dare make an assumption based on facts.

  2. Good for Spokane Valley!

  3. LMAO. This is Joey Gibson guy is not even white. But Nancy Pelosi and the media smear him and his events as “white supremacist.” The result? He is savagely beaten and pepper-sprayed by Antifa thugs, the likes of whom we know are funded and flown around the country by Soros-supported left wing organizations.

    “I’m not white. We have about eight speakers and only one speaker is white. You know, we have a couple of black speakers, a Hispanic, we have a transsexual speaker; we have a woman speaker. It’s very diverse. It’s really just about what’s on the inside ? what you believe, what’s in your heart, your soul ? it has nothing to do with skin color.”

    “I thinks she’s trying to capitalize. You know, and everyone’s picking up the rhetoric right now. I went to Seattle, a city council member said that I was a white supremacist.

    “I think it’s frustrating, because right now we have these politicians they believe that it’s okay to lie. You know, we let them get away with it.

    “She’s going to make such a ridiculous lie that – even the fact that I’m Brown – and she’s going to say I’m a white supremacist, and it’s just really frustrating.

    1. “And, you know what she’s doing, she’s making it more dangerous for San Francisco. She’s trying to rile up her citizens so they’ll come down there and try to drive us out. And, she’s using that rhetoric and it’s just going to cause more violence and it’s going to put more people in danger.”

      “She doesn’t even take care of her own people. And, now, she’s trying to make this more violent and more dangerous.”

      “So, I don’t know what she’s thinking. I don’t know if she’s trying to provoke or if she’s trying to bring in racists, or what.”

  4. The linked local news article appears to have been completely re-written.

    The article no longer includes EV’s block quoted sections making strained partisan smears supported by a bunch of links to the SPLC and similarly hateful, dubious sources.

    1. The section EV quoted that begins ‘Joey Gibson’s organization, Patriot Prayer…’ wasn’t directly from the article; it is from the letter sent to the city. The letter is linked in the 4th paragraph of the article. Her’s a direct link:


      1. Yep, just saw that. My mistake.

    2. Sorry, I now see that the block quotes are from the letter, not the article. Makes a lot more sense.

      The letter comes from “several community groups . . . like Spokane Democratic Socialists of Spokane and FUSE Washington”

  5. Fringe right-wing provocateurs whose rallies seem calculated to place groups of white supremacists and other societal lessers into mainstream settings for fun and profit have rights, too.

    (and plenty of support from certain conservatives)

    1. “societal lessers”?

      You make Hillary Clinton look like a populist…you make her look like Bill Clinton.

  6. The contemptible scum who have appropriated the label “liberal” are NOT liberal. They are intolerant, nasty, foul-mouthed little totalitarians, whose first impulse is to silence any opposing opinion. They use the “flag abuse” button. In real life, they use lawsuits, marches, demonstrations, boycotts, and when that doesn’t shut conservatives up, they use violence.

  7. All over the country, right wing provocateurs organize events to gin up hostility and violence by left wing hotheads?who accommodate their antagonists’ designs by recklessly acting to script. It’s a pattern. Everyone can see it’s a pattern.

    The best outcome for the nation would be for that pattern to fade.

    But the right wingers?mouthing claims of virtue and victimhood?keep initiating more events. Neither they nor their supporters want the pattern to fade. They want more of it.

    The left wingers?whose responses too often put them morally in the wrong?do want the pattern to stop, but not at the expense of stifling their own agency?a stifling the left rightly numbers among the goals of their right wing antagonists.

    That isn’t a clear moral picture. Nor is it so obscure that an alert third party needs to “Prospectively try to guess” about it. Those third parties are the only ones positioned to help. Whatever they can do to apply a modicum of suppression to both sides would help?help more than anything that can be done by taking sides. It would be better with third parties from civil society, but if it must be government, it must be government acting with equality?not by taking sides?not even on principle, because it isn’t a clear moral picture.

    1. How dare right wingers peaceably assemble to hear speakers and engage in political advocacy. They must be doing this to gin up hostility and violence.

      Just like all those people going to Trump rallies around the country in the summer of 2016. They must have been doing it just to provoke the hired thugs that were paid and trained by the DNC/Clinton campaign to go around starting violence at Trump rallies in order to further the media’s propaganda narrative.

  8. Interesting side of Spokane Valley. We drive through it decently often on the way to and from the Spokane Airport. And it probably has the closest Barnes and Noble to us in MT. Half an hour or so from Hayden Lake, in Idaho, which was notorious several decades ago for its militia types. They got pushed out by the cost of living thanks to being next door to ritzy Coeur d’Alene. Which may explain why Spokane Valley has picked up these misfits.

  9. My programmer’s background agrees with the use of square brackets with nothing between them to indicate an elision of part of a word.

    My sense of aesthetics rebels at the sight, however ? [] just looks too damned odd and ends up changing the visual flow of the sentence.

    My preference, then, is to simply enclose the changed word within brackets, such that I’d re-write Prof. V’s headline for this post thus:

    “The City Cannot … Prospectively [Try] to Guess Whether Certain [Speakers] … Will … Create a Disturbance”

    Yes, putting the empty square brackets after “Try” would indeed be minimizing the changes made to the original quote, but at the expense of indicating those changes gracelessly. I confess, though, that among legal authors (including, mostly, practicing lawyers) whose work product I review these days, the empty square brackets seem to be increasingly common.

  10. From the letter sent to the City of Spokane Valley…

    “We are a broad coalition of community groups and concerned members of the public…”

    Unfortunately, the letter does not list the community groups or concerned citizens. How do we know if it’s actually a ‘broad coalition’, or just a few folks – or even one?

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