Alan Swinney, the far-right extremist who was found guilty of 11 charges stemming from his participation in multiple violent rallies in August 2020, was sentenced Friday morning to 10 years in prison and three years of post prison supervision.
He was convicted of unlawful use of a weapon, attempted assault, pointing a firearm at another, second degree unlawful use of mace, among other charges.
“As evidenced by the defendant’s escalating violence, letters, social media statements and testimony, the defendant has no remorse for his actions, no desire to change and every intention of engaging in future acts of violence,” Deputy District Attorney Nathan Vasquez wrote in a sentencing memo filed Thursday.
Swinney shot Jason Britton in the eye with a paintball gun during an Aug. 15, 2020, protest downtown, causing a lasting eye injury.
In a recorded jail phone call, Swinney said he hadn’t intended to shoot Britton but expressed no remorse.
“Too bad for him,” Swinney said.
Swinney was among dozens of far-right demonstrators Aug. 22, 2020, who fired paintball guns and sprayed mace at anti-fascist counterprotesters during a violent brawl in downtown Portland. Many in the crowd were carrying firearms, but at one point Swinney pulled a revolver and pointed it at the crowd of counterprotesters.
To support their sentencing recommendation, prosecutors included a handwritten letter Swinney tried to send to Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who murdered George Floyd, sparking months of nationwide racial justice protests.
In the letter, Swinney expressed sympathy for Chauvin after his conviction, telling him to keep his head up because he could win on appeal or be freed through other means.
“Another thing that may end up working in your favor is that this country is headed toward civil war,” Swinney wrote. “I see it ramping up. Civil war will get you out of jail. It’ll get me out too.”
Swinney told Chauvin that they are connected because the protests sparked by Floyd’s murder are what drew Swinney from Texas to Portland to “deal with Antifa and Burn Loot Murder Protesters,” he said, using a derogatory alternative for Black Lives Matter.
In closing, Swinney told Chauvin “our country has too many George Floyds in it.”
“It’s time to clean house. I don’t believe you meant to kill the guy,” Swinney wrote. “The world’s a little bit better and safer place without him in it. He was a POS. Thank you for your service.”
Swinney’s defense attorney pointed to his time in the military, including a deployment to Kuwait during the Gulf War, as evidence of the hardships Swinney has experienced.
“That service is intimately connected with Alan Swinney falling into what he fell into,” attorney Joseph Westover said.
Prosecutors said Swinney is “a catalyst and a lightning rod for political violence” and that his desire to organize violent, hate-filled militia groups, create riots and engage in conflict represents an extreme danger to the community.
“The evidence that was presented at this trial...all continue to demonstrate a person who does not have remorse for what happened,” Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Heidi Moawad said before sentencing Swinney. “The videos showing the incidents do not portray a person who is scared for himself or for those around him, but for a person who really, pretty calmly and dispassionately used or threatened force, often with dangerous or deadly weapons.”
In sentencing Swinney, Moawad said that while there may have been bad actors on both sides during the clashes in question, Swinney was provoking violence. She said Swinney chose to become a bad actor.
Moawad said she hopes Swinney returns to his family in Texas when he is free to do so, and that he finds a more constructive way to participate in protests if they continue.