Six men have been indicted for rioting, following a brawl that took place at a Portland cidery back in May between far-right protesters and pub patrons, possibly with ties to the antifa.
Joey Gibson, the leader of the far-right Patriot Prayer group in Vancouver, was among the half-dozen indicted Thursday by a grand jury. The other five include Christopher Ponte, 37, Ian Kramer, 45, Mackenzie Lewis, 29, Matthew Cooper, 24, and Russell Schultz, 50.
A spokesperson for the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office said he could not speculate on the men’s political leanings.
But, according to a $1 million lawsuit filed after the brawl, at least five of the men now indicted were connected with Patriot Prayer, a far-right group that attracts white supremacists and has engaged in violence.
The lawsuit, filed by the owner of the cidery in May, alleges Gibson, Cooper, Lewis, and Kramer “battered” patrons, with Kramer cracking one woman on the head with a baton, knocking her unconscious. According to the lawsuit, Ponte has “participated in Patriot Prayer activities since its inception.”
The only man indicted who is not named in the Cider Riot lawsuit is 50-year-old Russell Schultz. The Guardian has reported that Schultz is a “known attendee” at Patriot Prayer rallies.
The indictments arise the same day as new videos surfaced by the Portland Mercury, which reveal a group of Patriot Prayer members waiting near the cider bar for instructions from Gibson and chatting about the weapons they had brought. The pub, called Cider Riot!, was hosting an event promoted by Portland’s anti-fascist group, Rose City Antifa.
Gibson has maintained his innocence, insisting he had been unjustly targeted by the county’s district attorney as a way to halt the far-right protests that were slated for downtown Portland a few days after his arrest.
“Instead of arresting the criminals, they decided to charge me with rioting,” Gibson told reporters last Friday outside the Multnomah County Detention Center before turning himself in.“They’re trying to silence us.”
All six men face one count of felony rioting, which can carry a sentence of up to five years.