Dori: Patriot Prayer founder Gibson calls acquittal a free speech victory; plans to sue DA
Jul 21, 2022, 4:36 PM
He may have been “obnoxious,” a Portland-area judge said of conservative Patriot Prayer founder Joey Gibson, but he did not cause a riot involving Antifa and other left-wing demonstrators in May 2019.
Tuesday’s ruling from Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Benjamin Souede frees Gibson from the threat of a felony federal riot charge conviction and a five-year prison sentence.
The acquittal, Gibson told Thursday’s Dori Monson Show, is a win for free speech and non-violent demonstrations and counter-protests.
“The record is overwhelming and indisputable that Mr. Gibson spoke obnoxiously to the crowd at Cider Riot,” the judge determined. “He was provocative, he was taunting … That is all speech … Speech cannot be considered in whether or not defendant committed a crime of riot.”
“When the judge made that decision, he didn’t necessarily like me, but it was important for him to uphold the law,” Gibson told Dori about Souede’s ruling.
Instead, Souede ruled, there was no evidence that Gibson’s involvement showed a level of violence that justified felony riot charges.
“I am somewhat bewildered that the state has driven the case to this point,” Souede said. “As an institution, the district attorney’s office’s decision to push this case to trial is surprising, given the state of the evidence.”
The case involved the response from Vancouver, Wash.-based Patriot Prayer followers, a group Gibson founded in 2016 to counter violent protests in Portland and other cities on the West Coast. The May Day 2019 brawl, Gibson said, occurred during a post-protest gathering of left-wing demonstrators, including alleged Antifa and anti-fascist groups, outside the Cider Riot bar. Conservative counter-protestors – including Gibson – arrived at the bar’s parking lot to face those they considered responsible for vandalism in Portland earlier that day.
In defense of his response, Gibson told Dori’s listeners, “I can’t control other people, but what I always do is document. I’ll try to talk to people. Sometimes it can come across as antagonistic. I’m never physical, so they (left-wing demonstrators) have meltdowns. The demons really come out, for some reason, when they see me.”
Video evidence presented in court backed Gibson up.
On the day of the brawl, Gibson said, he was met by those “throwing stuff and pepper-spraying me – but all I did was stay there and never responded in violence.”
Despite the clash, none of the leftist protestors were cited for the fighting, Gibson said.
Gibson, 39, told Dori’s listeners that the three years since he was charged in connection with the fight were “hard for me and for my family and my kids – not knowing if (their) dad was going to be locked up.”
And now, The Dori Monson Show asked Gibson in their Thursday interview, is Gibson going to sue the District Attorney for wrongful prosecution?
“One hundred percent,” Gibson said. “We’re really looking forward to it.”
Listen to Dori Monson weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.