PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Tusitala Toese, a familiar right-wing protester known by his nickname “Tiny,” made his first court appearance Monday on assault charges stemming from an incident in June 2018.
Toese, 23, was arrested on October 4 at the Portland International Airport for outstanding warrants for 3rd- and 4th-degree assault.
Supervisory deputy U.S. marshal in Oregon Eric Wahlstrom, said authorities had information Toese was flying into Portland and arrested him when his flight landed. Wahlstrom said his arrest wasn’t a previously planned surrender, the AP reported.
After a 4-minute court appearance, Toese, who posted bail soon after being booked, spoke with reporters outside the courtroom while standing with David Machado, who described himself as being “in the Proud Boys.”
Asked for comment about the case, Toese said, “I’m a proud western chauvinist and I refuse to apologize for creating a modern world.”
The alleged victim in the case, Tim Ledwith, also spoke with reporters outside court.
“It’s funny to show up when you don’t want people to think you’re part of a hate gang and with the hate gang,” Ledwith said. “I don’t have much to say. I just wished he stayed in Samoa.”
Toese’s next court appearance is scheduled for October 14.
Tiny Toese has been a large and familiar figure in the political demonstrations that have taken place in Portland since the election of Donald Trump in November 2016. He and Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson are the most familiar of the protest organizers.
On June 3, 2018, a Patriot Prayer protest dubbed “Tiny’s Freedom March” attracted a large faction of anti-fascist groups to Terry Schrunk Plaza, a piece of federal land in the middle of the city.
Throughout that afternoon, pepper spray was used on a handful of protesters. At points along the few square blocks of the march, the Patriot Prayer supporters stopped for a brief rally in between skirmishes. Toese, a native Samoan — spoke a few times.
“Tiny’s Freedom March” was announced as a farewell to him as he was going to return to Samoa. But that day he said he would only be gone for 2 weeks.
“I will be leaving for the islands, but believe me when I say I will be back. So Big Boy Tiny’s story just started and it ain’t ending soon,” he said that day. “We’re going to come out here with my brothers, we’re going to hit Portland and we’re going to hit it hard.”
On July 19, 2019, Toese’s Proud Boy cohort Donovan Flippo pleaded guilty to assaulting a man in Northeast Portland in July 2018.
That assault, in which Toese allegedly participated, happened days after “Tiny’s Freedom March.”
Toese and Flippo were indicted on assault charges Feb. 28, 2019, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office announced. They both were charged with assault for “intentionally, knowingly and recklessly causing physical injury.”
The indictment became public when Flippo was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center in March.
When Flippo pleaded guilty, the Western States Center released this statement:
“Flippo is just one of a number of violent members of the Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer who must be held accountable for their actions. In fact, the other Proud Boys member who assaulted [the victim], Tusitala ‘Tiny’ Toese, has yet to be apprehended and put on trial. We call upon local prosecutors and law enforcement to push ahead in holding perpetrators of alt-right violence accountable. There can be no place in our society for random acts of brutality and intimidation by bigots and extremists.”