Joey Gibson, the leader of local alt-right contingent Patriot Prayer, has asked the head of the Multnomah County Republican Party to defend him in a $1 million lawsuit.
Portland pub Cider Riot sued Gibson in early May, after members of Patriot Prayer appeared at the SE Couch establishment looking to confront people associated with anti-fascist (antifa) groups on May 1.
Video captured from the May Day incident shows Patriot Prayer members using insults and mace to harass Cider Riot patrons sitting outside. The visit escalated into a violent street fight, sending at least one person to the hospital.
"Plaintiffs have been harmed by Patriot Prayer's repeated, unwanted, alarming, and violent contacts with their business," reads the lawsuit filed by Juan Chavez, the attorney representing Cider Riot. "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."
Portland hasn't seen Gibson since the May Day clash. (He was noticeably absent from last weekend's Patriot Prayer event in Pioneer Courthouse Square.)
Now, as first reported by Willamette Week, it appears Gibson will be represented by Multnomah County Republican Party Chair James Buchal, a lawyer who specializes in civil litigation.
Buchal is also representing a coalition of parents suing Portland Public Schools for allegedly using taxpayer dollars to support anti-gun protests. In the past decade, Buchal's unsuccessfully run for Oregon Attorney General and US Representative.
He's opined on alt-right protests in the past. After a white nationalist—who participated in Patriot Prayer rallies—killed two men on the MAX who were trying to prevent his racist attack, Buchal said he feared for the GOP's safety.
In an interview with the Guardian, Buchal advocated for right-wing protesters to bring their own security teams "like the Oath Keepers or the Three Percent" to events, instead of relying on the police.
"We’re thinking about that," he told the Guardian. "Because there are now belligerent, unstable people who are convinced that Republicans are like Nazis.”
As the WW mentioned, Buchal's new legal partnership with Patriot Prayer signals the local Republican party's support of what's considered a radical right-wing organization.
We gave Buchal a call to explain his decision.
Mercury: Are you representing Patriot Prayer in the lawsuit filed by Cider Riot?
Buchal: Well, I think so, as long as I get my paperwork turned in by the end of the month. It's not official yet.
Did you reach out to offer your defense, or did Patriot Prayer get in touch with you?
I don't have any time to reach out to anyone, I'm a busy guy. Does that answer your question?
Have you ever been to a Patriot Prayer rally before?
Yes, I went to the one on June 4  at Terry Schrunk Plaza. I remember being horrified by the level of hostility from those in opposition. Especially in response to such innocuous statements by Patriot Prayer.
So, you haven't been since 2017?
No. I don't have the time.
Why did you agree to represent the group?
I think Mr. Gibson is unfairly maligned in the community for wanting to express free speech. Also, [the Multnomah County Republicans] have a continuous concern that the city administration, specifically our police commissioner Ted Wheeler, is attempting to turn antifa into a paramilitary wing of the local government. We have made clear our views of the kind of public disorder the [Wheeler] administration seems to encourage.
Do you support the actions taken by the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) during these protests?
I think the police distinguished who were the more dangerous people at these protests early on. But there is some enormous political pressure to undermine their work. Like sabotaging the police by releasing those emails [a reference to text messages between Gibson and PPB released through a public records request in February]. There's a message from on high that the city must protect antifa at all costs.
Patriot Prayer is based in Vancouver, Washington. Do you support the idea of people from another state coming into our city to protest its government?
I think people have the right to protest, but I'm not sure if they are the right people to protest.