PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — More than three years after a street brawl outside a Northeast Portland bar, Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson is finally standing trial on a single count of felony riot for his alleged role in the incident.
The May 1, 2019 street fight took place outside the Cider Riot, which is now closed. On video, Gibson and other Patriot Prayer members are seen involved in a fight that spilled into the middle of the street. Prosecutors allege Gibson taunted and threatened Antifa members in a deliberate effort to provoke a fight.
In the melee, a woman named Heather Clark was knocked unconscious. Before she was knocked out, Gibson is seen on video pushing her. That happened moments after Gibson and other Patriot Prayer members — some of whom also face charges — taunted and threatened Antifa members “in an effort to clearly provoke a physical altercation,” court document stated at the time of his arrest.
Gibson pleaded not guilty in September 2019. Since his arrest, court documents show he’s used a number of legal maneuvers to delay the trial and/or get the venue changed. He also publicly stated Portland city leaders targeted him and claimed his arrest was politically motivated.
However, all of his efforts to avoid the trial were denied.
Both the prosecutors and defense laid out their cases in their opening statements.
Prosecutors say Gibson and co-defendants Russell Schultz and Mackenzie Lewis incited the brawl.
“You don’t see Mr. Schultz and Mr. Gibson acting to not break up the fight, but to keep the violence going,” Deputy DA Brad Kalbaugh told the jury.T”his isn’t an attempt, you’ll see no attempts at stopping that fight. They’ll see attempts to make sure it doesn’t become a whole bunch of people, but certainly one-on-one.”
Gibson’s defense attorney, D. Angus Lee, said Gibson wasn’t violent.
“Mr. Gibson did not respond with any violent act. He did not pepper spray anyone did not punch Anyone, anyone,” Lee told the jurors. “And what you’ll see when you listen to everything, Mr. Gibson repeatedly called people don’t throw things.”
Three other Patriot Prayer members — Chris Ponte, Ian Kramer and Matthew Cooper — were indicted and pleaded guilty to charges related to the Cider Riot brawl.
In May 2021, Kramer was sentenced to 20 months in prison and formal supervised probation.
Abram Goldman-Armstrong, who owned the Cider Riot, sued Gibson and Patriot Prayer members for making the bar a target for violence from his far-right group. That civil suit has yet to be settled.
KOIN 6 News will have more information as the trial proceeds.