Mayor Ted Wheeler said he hopes the tragic killings will help shift the "political dialogue" in the US, which has has become increasingly focused on debates over First Amendment rights as college campus speaking engagements by controversial right-wing commentators like Ann Coulter and Milo Yiannopoulos have been met with violent protests by groups opposing their presence.
On Friday, self-proclaimed white nationalist Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, stabbed and killed 53-year-old Ricky John Best and 23-year-old Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, who were trying to stop Christian from harassing two women on a Portland light-rail train, one of whom was wearing a headscarf.
One of the young women said Christian told them to "go back to Saudi Arabia," and to "get out of his country."
Another victim, 21-year-old Micah David-Cole Fletcher, is recovering in the hospital after Christian stabbed him in the neck.
Christian had voiced his support for white supremacy and his disdain for women and transgender people on social media, where he also posted a photo and video of him giving a Nazi salute.
He had been seen at a Portland "free speech" rally in April, draped in an American flag and reportedly chanting racial slurs.
A week before US President Donald Trump was elected in November 2016, Christian posted a bizarre and hateful tirade on Facebook, saying, "If Donald Trump is the Next Hitler then I am joining his SS to put an end to Monotheist Question. All Zionist Jews, All Christians who do not follow Christ's teaching of Love, Charity, and Forgiveness And All Jihadi Muslims are going to Madagascar or the Ovens/FEMA Camps!!! Does this make me a fascist!!!"
Christian was scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday to face charges of aggravated murder and intimidation.
Trump denounced the killings on Twitter Monday, writing, "The violent attacks in Portland on Friday are unacceptable. The victims were standing up to hate and intolerance. Our prayers are w/ them."
Wheeler said he appreciated the president’s words, but that he is afraid participants in Saturday’s rally may be "coming to peddle a message of hatred."
He told reporters, "I hope we rise to the memory of these two gentlemen who lost their lives … Let's do them honor by standing with them and carrying on their legacy of standing up to hate and bigotry and violence."
The rally’s Facebook page promises an "uplifting experience to bring back strength and courage to those who believe in freedom. Thank you Trump for all you have done."
The event is also scheduled to feature an appearance from alt-right darling Kyle Chapman, an "American nationalist" who goes by the nickname "Based Stickman" and who was arrested for battery during a pro-Trump rally in Berkeley, California, in early March.