A Eugene “God, Guns, and Trump Rally” is stirring controversy after organizers for the event encouraged participants to bring firearms. They plan to gather on Saturday afternoon at the Free Speech Plaza downtown.
Organizer Andrew Allwander, who identifies as a right-wing Christian conservative, said the event was not planned around the annual Eugene-Springfield “Pride in the Park”. He said he recently moved here, and it was a coincidence that the dates aligned.
“Me and a friend planned it on July 5th and thought August 10th was a perfect day,” Allwander said. He added that in Eugene, conservatism, firearms, and support for Trump are taboo.
“They always have these events in Portland, so I though why can’t we have one here in Eugene,” he said. He says he wants show that true diversity means including conservative voices.
Despite concerns over bad timing in light of shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, where at least 31 people were killed, the rally will go on as planned.
On the possibility that his event could attract white nationalists, Allwander said attendees are discouraged from bringing Confederate flags and that white nationalists are not welcome.
A spokesperson for the nearby Saturday Market said they’re working with Eugene Police to keep the peace. The EPD told KLCC they’re aware of the rally and are assigning appropriate resources.
The advocacy group, Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ), says the event has stoked fear among the Latinx, immigrant and LGBTQ+ community.
“Whether the planning of the rally at the same time as Pride was coincidental or not, it’s still harmful,” Rose Wilde said. She works with SURJ.
“It’s a direct attack on the LGBTQ+ event,” Wilde said. She added that Conservative Christians have always targeted the community.
Wilde said they don’t plan to engage with attendees at the rally, instead they’ll hold a “roving rally” where participants can show opposition without putting themselves at risk.