PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Joey Gibson, the leader of the right-wing Patriot Prayer, said Thursday he will turn himself in to face a felony riot charge.
Gibson posted this information on his Facebook page shortly before appearing on the Lars Larson Show on KXL 101.1
Gibson’s lawyer, James Buchal, told the Associated Press Gibson has been charged with rioting in connection with the May Day brawl at Cider Riot in Northeast Portland.
Video shows people using chemical spray and several people fighting. Buchal, said none of the videos from the altercation show Gibson being violent.
In a phone interview with KOIN 6 News, Gibson said he believes this felony charge is politically motivated and he believes the City of Portland is trying to ban him from the streets.
Gibson, one of the main provocateurs in the protests that have roiled Portland for the past 3 years, told KOIN 6 News he expects to surrender to authorities on Thursday. His surrender comes days before an expected protest between ultra-right wing and ultra-left wing groups in downtown Portland.
In a phone interview with KOIN 6 News, Gibson said he wants more people to show up at the protest on Saturday to stand up for 1st Amendment rights.
“This is a complete attack on the 1st Amendment, without a doubt. This is 100% political. They didn’t arrest one person that was with antifa or Cider Riot,” Gibson told KOIN 6 News.
The felony riot charge, he said, “basically means that if anybody goes out on to the streets to exercise their 1st Amendment right, they can be charged for standing there. … The evidence is out there. I was trying to keep the peace as much as I could.”
Gibson said he “was ready to be done with Portland,” but this felony charge makes him want to fight back more, “and by fight back, I mean politically.”
‘Violence, hate at heart of paramilitary group’
The Western States Center applauded the decision to charge Gibson. In a statement, deputy director Amy Herzfeld-Copple said:
“We’re encouraged that Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson is finally being held accountable for his actions. In recent years, he has intentionally and repeatedly sown violence and chaos in Portland’s streets. Gibson likes to portray himself as mainstream, but violence and hate have always been at the heart of his paramilitary group. His gatherings have been frequented by bigoted, violent members of the Proud Boys and self-avowed neo-Nazis, skinheads, and white supremacists. The May attack on Cider Riot was anything but an isolated incident. It was calculated, premeditated, and part of a string of violent incidents across the region. It’s part of an international trend, from Charlottesville to New Zealand, of far-right extremists working to intimidate and silence their opponents. The criminal charges against Gibson and his co-conspirators are welcome, if overdue. Taken together with recent moves by authorities to investigate and prosecute violence by Proud Boys members, the era of impunity may be coming to a close.”
Two other people were arrested Thursday on charges related to the May Day brawl by US Marshals after PPB requested their help.
Matthew Cooper and Russell Schultz both face riot charges. Cooper, 24, was arrested and booked into the Multnomah County Jail. Cooper, 50, was taken into custody for a riot warrant in Washington state.
Authorities said the investigation continues.