Controversial business owner withdraws from 'March 4 Trump' event in Lake Oswego
Lake Oswego business owner Kevin "The Geek" Kerwin and his fellow organizers of a "March 4 Trump" event in Lake Oswego have parted ways after extensive media coverage of Kerwin's inflammatory Facebook posts and tweets.
"I honestly did not know of his FB posts regarding racist comments from two years ago, as I have only known him for a few months through FB," organizer Carol Pressnall Leek posted to the event's Facebook page on Saturday. "I certainly do not condone those comments, and in fact, find them disgusting."
On Monday, Kerwin announced that he was pulling his support for the event.
"The event organizers have gone down a path I can't agree too," he said. "Good luck, everyone. I'm not a slave to tyranny, but the organizers are. Can't go there."
Kerwin has used vulgar terms on Facebook and Twitter for women and African Americans. He has targeted Muslims with explicit language and images of a burning Quran. In one Facebook post, Kerwin wondered why no one has created a video game "where you shoot liberals in the streets."
He recently garnered national attention for window signs that said "ignorant liberals" belong to a "party of complete morons" who should go "straight to Hell where you belong."
"We've had it with you idiots," Kerwin wrote.
Those words became the subject of increased media scrutiny last week after Kerwin began promoting the Lake Oswego event.
Kerwin told The Review that he was one of the creators of "my little march," and his name was originally listed as an administrator on the local group's Facebook page. But Leek, who resides in Salem, said she is the event's main organizer and that she only recruited Kerwin at an early point in the planning process because of his "passion for our president" and to leverage his media contacts.
However, she says she quickly became concerned that his notoriety was overshadowing the march itself and that he was creating a perception that he was its primary organizer. She says she and the other event planners also did not know about Kerwin's history of racist online posts, but confronted him about them as soon as they came to light.
"We sat him down," she said, "and told him, 'You need to stop. You can't do this, because it's not about you; it's not your march. This is not who Trump supporters are, and this is not what this march is about.'"
Despite the warning, Kerwin put up a new public Facebook post over the weekend in which he used extremely vulgar language to refer to Hillary Clinton. At that point, Leek says, she asked him to withdraw his participation in the event.
"Then the Hillary Clinton post came out and I just about died," she said. "I just decided I can't do this with him. I have Trump supporters saying, 'I'm not coming, I don't want to be a part of this.' And I thought, 'They're right.'"
On Monday evening, Kerwin told The Review that the other organizers had asked him to "settle down and get out of the limelight" after he gave a heated interview with KOIN on Sunday.
He said he responded by withdrawing his involvement, including the use of his computer repair shop as a destination for the marchers.
"I don't deal with people that bow down to liberals at all," he said. "They don't have the guts to do what I do — they're being politically correct right now."
Leek said the march scheduled for Saturday will go on, and that it will be peaceful.
"This March 4 Trump event is NOT about Kevin Kerwin and his agenda regarding liberals," she wrote on Facebook. "This event is NOT about his negative and offensive posted FB remarks. This event is certainly not about hate for anyone or anything. This event is all about a group of people meeting up, and marching in support of our fairly elected president. It's a place for us to come together, hear from our local officials, and to march in peace."
Leek said Kerwin's online followers have begun to send her negative messages following his withdrawal from the event.
"I've got a lot of nasty stuff from them, calling me names for going toward the liberal side because I'm doing this," she said. "It's like, 'Are you kidding? That's not it at all.'"
Participants in the march are scheduled to gather in George Rogers Park at noon before parading down State Street to A Avenue in what Leek's note refers to as a "peaceful march along the sidewalks of LO," although she says organizers may post a slightly different route later this week.
"I'm just going to let it happen," Kerwin told The Review. "They can have it. But if they're afraid of liberals, that goes against everything I believe in."
Meanwhile, several groups are planning an alternative gathering on Saturday in Lake Oswego. Oregon Students Empowered, Independents for Progressive Action, the Direct Action Alliance and others will gather from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. in Millennium Plaza Park for "Stand for LOve," a family-friendly event that will include information tables, music, face painting and a host of speakers, including state Rep. Ann Lininger, for Lake Oswego City Councilor Jon Gustafson, Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba and Clackamas County Commissioners Martha Schrader and Sonya Fischer.