The election of right-wing protester Gregory Isaacson to commander of an American Legion post in Northeast Portland stoked outrage on social media, where some veterans and Portlanders called for his removal. A no-confidence vote was supposed to be held at Post 134's headquarters Sunday afternoon, but Isaacson called off the vote and rescheduled it for Feb. 9.
Isaacson, who is a Marine Corps veteran, says he's been mischaracterized.
"I served to support freedom," he tells WW. "To be libeled as a Nazi, racist, fascist is so antithetical to everything we produced."
A few American Legion members, including Isaacson, gathered at Post 134 on Jan. 12 despite the meeting being canceled.
One of the attendees was Navy veteran Kevin Beasley, who plans to run as a replacement commander of Post 134. He said his election would follow the Feb. 9 no-confidence vote, should that vote result in Isaacson's removal as commander.
Beasley said he is concerned that recent events have tainted the post's image. For example, bands that were scheduled to play at the post in upcoming months canceled as a result of Isaacson's election, Beasley said.
"I believe I'm in a position to help make the post a place of positive community impact," Beasley told WW. "I love this place. This is my hang out. This is my spot."
Isaacson, who is an employee in the city's parks department, said if the membership votes him out, he will comply and step down as commander.
Isaacson has been a regular attendee at Patriot Prayer rallies. To him, those groups represent free speech, he said, which is why he attends their rallies.
He declined to tell WW why he had been previously suspended from the post, saying he couldn't disclose such information to a non-member. When multiple American Legion members nearby said they would like to know why he had been 86'd, he said he couldn't tell them, either, because that information is private.
Portland resident and Army veteran Robin Eckstein showed up to Post 134 to switch membership so she could participate in the vote. "I'm looking forward to voting you no-confidence," she told Isaacson.
Vietnam war veteran Jim van Dooren showed up to the post on Sunday to renew his membership. "U.S. veterans are the original Antifa," van Dooren told WW.