Republicans Use 'Alt-Right' Portland Rally to Recruit New Members
Republicans have used a controversial “alt-right” rally in Portland, held in the wake of the the killing spree allegedly perpetrated by a local white supremacist in the city, to recruit new members to the party.
The effort was led by James Buchal, chair of the Multnomah County Republican party, who urged attendees at the rally on Sunday to join to the GOP. Details of his efforts were uncovered in a recording from the rally.
“I want to say, since I am involved in the Republican party, that the structure to change the government officials in a party, a political party,” Buchal told the crowd . “And we are looking for young conservatives to get active in the Multnomah County Republican party.”
He added: “We’re looking for young conservatives to step up and run for local offices. We need to get control of local school boards and every other local district. We need people on the streets talking to people, knocking on doors, making phone calls. The party is there, the party is open. Come and help us win America back. “
On Monday, Buchal confirmed to the Guardian that he used the controversial rally to recruit new GOP members and said the effort paid off. “I have had a handful of calls from people, but I do not know whether or not they are rally participants, and I did not ask them.”
Buchal shared a platform at the event with Kyle “Based Stickman” Chapman, who became a cult figure in the far right movement after weilding a stick in a skirmish with anti-fascist protesters in Berkeley.
Not long after Buchal spoke, the leader of the militant Oath Keepers group, Stuart Rhodes, publicly swore Tusitala “Tiny” Toese into the organisation. Toese was filmed punching an antifascist demonstrator to the ground during a confrontation last month, later defending the move as an act of self-defense.
Buchal and the organisers of Sunday’s rally, which was ostensibly a protest over “free speech”, have distanced themselves from Jeremy Christian, who is accused of fatally stabbing two men in Portland when they tried to shield young women from his anti-Muslim tirade.
However the decision to press ahead with the rally, so soon after the racially-charged murders, has inflamed tensions in Portland.
Buchal is the same senior local Republican that the Guardian previously reported was considering using the Oath Keepers and a similar group called The Three Percenters as security, because of what he called “belligerent, unstable people who are convinced that Republicans are like Nazis”.
The same militant groups provided security for the Sunday’s rally in downtown Portland, where anti-fascist counter-protesters had tear gas and rubber bullets deployed against them by riot police.
Buchal praised the Oath Keepers in his speech on Sunday, comparing them to the two men who victims who were allegedly murdered by Christian.
“Now, there’s been a lot of attacks on people like the Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters. People say that they’re racist and they’re evil, well you know what? I think they’re acting from the same moral impulse that Rick Best and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche had.”
He continued: “They are there to protect. They see that wolves are on the rise, and they step forward like sheep dogs to protect us. The people who can’t see that, the people sitting in that office over there who can’t see that? They are morally blind.”
Buchal said he did not attend the event in any official capacity. His main purpose was “to investigate whether some of the media claims concerning the event were correct: that the rally would consist of hate speech uttered by bigots and white supremacists”.
Asked about the impression he formed following his investigation, Buchal said: “I did not find that to be the truth.”