Patriot Prayer’s Joey Gibson sues Multnomah County DA over felony riot charge

By Troy Brynelson (OPB)
Vancouver, Wash. Sept. 12, 2020 10:52 p.m. Updated: Sept. 12, 2020 10:53 p.m.

Attorneys dispute allegations, and contrast the charge with policy that dropped charges against racial justice protesters.

Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson argues with members of the Satanic Portland Antifascists during a Patriot Prayer march on September 15, 2019 in Portland's Pioneer Square.

Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson argues with members of the Satanic Portland Antifascists during a Patriot Prayer march on Sept. 15, 2019, in Portland's Pioneer Square.

Jonathan Levinson / OPB

Patriot Prayer founder Joey Gibson and affiliate Russell Schultz are accusing Multnomah County’s district attorney of “selectively” prosecuting them for riot, stemming from a May 2019 brawl in Portland.

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A 28-page complaint filed Friday in federal court claims District Attorney Mike Schmidt, his office and a deputy district attorney are “engaged in bad faith, selective, and retaliatory” for pursing charges against Gibson and Schultz.

The complaint, first reported by The Oregonian/OregonLive, specifically seeks a temporary restraining order or an injunction in their cases. The two have both pleaded not guilty, with trials set to begin Oct. 26.

The riot charges stem from a fight outside the former Northeast Portland pub Cider Riot on May 1, 2019. Gibson, Schultz and more than a dozen other far-right protesters clashed with pub patrons and anti-fascist activists.

A man with ties to Patriot Prayer, according to a separate lawsuit, was criminally charged for hitting a woman with a baton and fracturing her vertebra during the fight.

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In August 2019, the Multnomah County district attorney’s office indicted six people, including Gibson and Schultz. One man pleaded guilty in January, and another pleaded no contest.

Patriot Prayer is a far-right group, based in Vancouver, that has attracted racist and violent followers. Its events sometimes commingle with the Proud Boys, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated a hate group for its frequent use of violence.

In the complaint, attorneys D. Angus Lee and James L. Buchal, who is also chair of the Multnomah County GOP, describe Gibson’s group as promoting “free speech, patriotism and conservative Christian values.”

The complaint disputes the charges, spending much of the time specifically disputing allegations facing Gibson.

It also contrasts the allegations with a new policy from Schmidt that dropped many low-level charges against protesters who have participated in racial justice demonstrations since May. The complaint says the policies allow “Antifa to engage in mass criminal conduct to the detriment of the City of Portland.”

“I think this is just one example of a real pervasive misuse of governmental authority in Portland to disadvantage politically disfavored points of view,” Buchal told OPB.

Buchal said he and Lee plan to file for a temporary restraining order next week.

Brent Weisberg, spokesman for the district attorney’s office, said the office does not comment on pending litigation.

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