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Doug Brown

Two days ago, about 20 members of Vancouver, Washington alt-right group Patriot Prayer appeared at NE Portland's Cider Riot bar, yelled insults at patrons sitting outside, sprayed those patrons with mace, and promptly started a street brawl.

Cider Riot is suing.

"Plaintiffs have been harmed by Patriot Prayers repeated, unwanted, alarming, and violent contacts with their business," reads the lawsuita gainst Patriot Prayer and its leader, Joey Gibson. "Citing threats of violence, Cider Riot has had to increase security, give staff additional training on safety in case of another Patriot Prayer attack, and has lost business."

Cider Riot owner Abram Goldman-Armstrong has requested a jury trial and $1 million in damages in a lawsuit accusing Patriot Prayer and Gibson of acting negligently, trespassing, and intentionally inflicting emotional distress on his business' employees and patrons.

Gibson and members of Patriot Prayer arrived at Cider Riot the evening of May 1 after a day of peaceful May Day protests organized by local left-wing activist groups often targeted by Patriot Prayer. Many of those demonstrators met at Cider Riot in the late afternoon for a pre-planned May Day celebration at the bar.

According to the lawsuit, filed by Oregon Justice Resource Center (OJRC) attorney Juan Chavez, Gibson "coordinated with Patriot Prayer members to arrive at Cider Riot in the afternoon to 'Take the fight to Antifa.'"

In his Facebook livestream of the encounter, the suit adds, "Gibson introduced Cider Riot as 'Antifa central,' then asked his followers to look into the business, its owners, and its landlord. He then told his audience that 'If they cared about Portland… take care of this establishment.'"

Videos posted to Twitter by bystanders show members of Patriot Prayer approaching Cider Riot's outside patio dressed in armor, wearing helmets, and wielding batons. After shouting insults and hateful language at the patrons, one man in a MAGA hat sprays the people sitting on the patio with mace, kicking off a violent melee.

According to the lawsuit, Gibson "facilitated and refereed a street fight" between two people on the street outside of Cider Riot. Not long after, the suit claims, another Patriot Prayer member named Ian Kramer, "used a baton to crack a Cider Riot patron on the head, knocking her unconscious." She allegedly suffered a "serious vertebrae fracture."

"Gibson directed his group to back up, but continued to livestream and harass Cider Riot patrons while acknowledging the battery," the complaint continues.

By the time Portland police officers arrived at the scene, the fight had dissipated. In a media release, Portland Police Bureau explained that it took officers an hour to response because "it takes time for police response to spontaneous fights between groups of individuals who are armed and actively engaging in violence."

This isn't the first time Cider Riot has been targeted by Patriot Prayer. On January 24, Cider Riot's outer walls were spray painted with the phrase “Fuck Antifa.” The business believes Patriot Prayer was connected to this graffiti. Gibson refutes the claim.

OJRC is representing Cider Riot pro bono. In a media statement, Chavez explains why:

"For too long, Portlanders have been terrorized by Joey Gibson and his adherents. Patriot Prayer and associated individuals and groups have repeatedly invaded our city, seeking to cause trouble, intimidate communities, and impede economic activity. They have rallied against vigils held for victims of police violence and marches for survivors of sexual violence and have hosted an event that attracted violent white supremacists from across the country days after the MAX train stabbings in May 2017. Our community is suffering and we must respond to the seriousness of the threat posed by the actions and words of white nationalists, white supremacists and the alt-right.

Our client Abram Goldman-Armstrong has the right to operate Cider Riot in peace without fearing for the safety and comfort of his customers and staff. He has already had to take measures to protect them from the alt-right and has lost business as a direct result of the actions of Joey Gibson and Patriot Prayer.

Our client’s complaint seeks recognition of and compensation for the damage Joey Gibson and Patriot Prayer are doing to a law abiding Portland business. We need to send a message that their brand of hate is not welcome in Portland."

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