Patriot Prayer rethinking its approach to freedom rallies
After yet another freedom rally incited tense opposition, Patriot Prayer’s Joey Gibson says he’s rethinking his approach.
“Even if my motivations are in the right place, you have to look at what the results are,” Gibson told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson.
The results on Sunday were dueling demonstrations. At Westlake Park was an event led by Gibson’s Patriot Prayer, promoted as a free speech rally. In nearby streets, however, were counter protesters marching in opposition to what they said was a white supremacist, pro-Trump rally.
“It had nothing to do with Trump,” Gibson said. “It was just free speech and promoting peace and love. It’s a pretty simple message.”
The Patriot Prayer event in Seattle was scheduled and permitted long before tragic incidents in Charlottesville, where white nationalists gathered to “unite the right.” The group was met by counter protesters and violence broke out. Ultimately, one woman lost her life and dozens were injured after a white supremacist allegedly drove his car through a crowd.
All this happened just one day before Gibson’s event in Seattle and added to the tensions in the Northwest.
“I believe in (white supremacists’) right to march, but the problem is they are trying to latch onto our movement,” Gibson said. “And they did it under the guise of ‘unite the right’ … the problem is it’s more identity politics. It’s using your race as a means to further your agenda. All that does is divide people. I want nothing to do with that.”
But Gibson is noticing that division has become a byproduct of his demonstrations. He says he attempts to bring all perspectives together, even though he comes from the far right of the political spectrum. During Sunday’s event at Westlake, for example, he invited people who opposed him to use the stage and speak their mind.
His demonstrations, however, seem to be adding fuel to a fire that is already burning hot — and everyone ends up getting burned.
“There was a guy who came up, he’s a communist guy,” Gibson said. “He hates racism, he hates Nazis. That’s what he went up there to speak about. These guys who don’t know what’s going on, they don’t pay attention, they don’t have brains. They tried to yell him down, calling him a Nazi. The look on the guy’s face as he tried to speak was priceless because I think he kind of understood how we felt. He’s far from a Nazi, he hates Nazis, and these guys were calling him a Nazi.”
The event speaks to how high tensions are at his demonstrations and has Gibson considering the results of his actions.
“I don’t want to be part of the problem, I want to be part of the solution,” Gibson said. “I don’t have all the answers. I am constantly questioning everything that I do … especially Sunday down in (Seattle) there were tons of street brawls because of our march. Even though it was all in self-defense, you have to ask yourself, ‘Am I creating a further divide in this country, even though I am trying to bring people together?’ I have to ask that question and we have to rethink what it is we want to do. What is our motivation? What are we going to do to move forward.”
Gibson admits that as of now, he doesn’t know the answers to those questions.
Listen to the full interview to hear more about Gibson’s response to Sunday and how he is considering suing groups labeling him as a Nazi and a white supremacist.