Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson acquitted of rioting in 2019, says he'll sue the DA for discriminatory prosecution

There was a street brawl in Portland on May Day 2019 between anti-fascists at a bar and people associated with the group Patriot Prayer. I covered the story a couple of days after it happened and at the time I mentioned that both sides of the ensuing brawl were not behaving themselves. In fact, I wrote a separate post the next day trying to identify the person with Patriot Prayer who knocked out a woman on the Antifa side of the brawl. If you want you can scroll through those posts for a detailed breakdown of what happened but the bottom line is that the two groups faced off outside an anarchist bar called Cider Riot and things devolved quickly into taunting, people spraying bear spray and punches being thrown. What I didn’t see what Joey Gibson throwing any punches.

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By the time the police arrived the fighting was over and no one on either side wanted to get the police involved. But that wasn’t the end of it. The owners of Cider Riot eventually got in trouble with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) which issued a report blaming them for the May Day chaos.

The report recommends Cider Riot’s owner and staff to be charged with providing false statements, failure to evict and permitting unlawful and disorderly activity, all state alcohol license violations. A charge of destroyed or concealed evidence also appears in the report, but the details of that allegation are redacted.

A few months later a regular at Cider Riot was killed in a hit-and-run shortly after leaving the bar. The owner of the bar shut it down about a month later.

Meanwhile, Joey Gibson, the leader of Patriot Prayer was hit with a charge of rioting for the May Day brawl in August of 2019.

Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson turned himself into authorities and was booked into the Multnomah County Jail on Friday. He was released from jail a few hours later.

An active warrant for riot was issued against Gibson, according to Portland police. The felony Class C charge is in connection with a brawl outside a Northeast Portland bar on May Day…

Gibson’s lawyer, James Buchal, who is also the Multnomah County Republican Chair, learned about the felony riot charge against Gibson on Thursday. He said Gibson is innocent and videos show Gibson was not engaged in violent conduct. He also said that Gibson “was repeatedly pepper-sprayed and spat upon by violent members of Antifa.”

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Today, Gibson’s case was finally dismissed. He threatened to sue the prosecutor for what he claimed was discriminatory prosecution.

Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson has been acquitted Tuesday on a charge of riot related to an incident in Northeast Portland on May Day of 2019, just a day after his trial on the charge got underway.

Judge Benjamin Souede said the decision was made because there was not sufficient evidence in the case for jurors to find that Gibson and Schultz participated in the act of “riot” as defined by the state.

“These defendants are not charged with inciting anything, or with encouraging anything, or provoking anything. In each of these cases, the district attorney presented to the Grand Jury for its consideration the charge of riot,” Judge Benjamin Souede said…

Gibson now tells KATU News he plans to take legal action aginst the county, accusing District Attorney Mike Schmidt of discriminatory prosecution.

“The judge was highly confused why the DA fought so hard for three years to go after people who weren’t even violent,” Gibson told KATU News.

It wasn’t just the judge and Gibson who thought the charges were off base. A former Clatsop County DA named Joshua Marquis told KATU, “The DA’s Office and Schmidt in particular invested a great deal on this. It’s highly unusual for judges to basically say, I don’t know what you were thinking.”

Here’s a local news report on the acquittal. As you’ll see, Judge Souede actually said, “I am somewhat bewildered that the state has driven this case to this point.” Stick around to the end of this report for a law professor contacted by KOIN6 who seemed to agree this case could raise the appearance that the DA was not applying the law equally to all potential defendants. In other words, Joey Gibson may have a case here.

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John Stossel 12:00 AM | June 21, 2024
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