A Portland anti-fascist activist has been released of charges stemming from a 2019 clash with attendees of a right-wing demonstration in downtown Portland. On Friday, a Multnomah County judge sentenced Alexander Dial, 39, to three years' probation and 80 hours of community service for two charges, while dismissing all remaining charges leveled against him.
Dial was indicted in 2019 for actions that took place during an August 17, 2019 Proud Boys demonstration in downtown Portland, which attracted a crowd of counter-protesters to decry the right-wing extremist group. Dial was one of the counter-protesters in attendance that day.
One video from the demonstration shows a small school bus painted black, which contained members of the American Guard, a far-right group with white nationalist affiliations, and other right-wing protesters. The bus was shuttling this group away from the demonstration while a crowd of counter-protesters—including Dial—yelled at the bus from outside. The bus doors open to face the crowd, and one of the bus riders leans out of the doors, swinging at counter-protesters with a hammer. The video shows Dial wrest the hammer out of this person's hand, before throwing the hammer back through the bus door. The video ends after the bus door closes and drives off. This incident left Dial facing charges of assault, riot, unlawful use of a weapon, and criminal mischief. The prosecution was unable to identify anyone as a victim in this case.
Dial was also charged with shoving and tasing a right-wing protester during a separate interaction that day, a clash that left him with charges of assault, riot, attempted felony, and unlawful use of a taser.
Two of the charges were categorized as Measure 11 crimes, which carry a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and 10 months in prison.
Dial's attorney previously argued that, in both cases, Dial was acting in self-defense. Dial's case, which was delayed for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, came to an end after he chose to plead "no contest" to two counts—a misdemeanor riot charge and an attempted assault felony charge. A "no contest" plea means a defendant accepts the criminal charges without accepting guilt, which prohibits the charges being used against them in a civil lawsuit. This plea deal was accepted by Multnomah County Judge Melvin Oden-Orr, who dismissed all other charges against Dial Friday.
Prosecutors with Multnomah County District Attorney's office had hoped Dial would be charged at least $4,000 for the convictions.
"My office has prosecuted people on both sides of these clashes," said Deputy DA Nicole Hermann Friday, explaining her request to Oden-Orr. "The problem is the damage it has caused to this city and the reputation of this city."
Dial's attorney Kenneth Kreuscher argued that the long-winded case has put Dial in serious debt from the bail amounts associated with his charges, which has become a serious stressor. Oden-Orr offered Dial to chose between a $1,000 fine or 80 days of community service. Dial chose the later option.
Since his September 2019 arrest, Dial has been prohibited from attending protests, drinking alcohol, and leaving his house after dark. Under his new 32-month probationary period, Dial is only barred from attending unlawful assemblies and from interacting with the person he shoved and tased in 2019.
"It should be made clear that your probation does not limit your ability to participate in protests," Oden-Orr explained Friday.
Dial said he still sees this allowance as a trap, since Portland police have historically been quick to deem a demonstration unlawful.
"I am an activist," Dial told the Mercury Friday. "And as an activist I believe protesting is necessary. But if I go to a protest, I could probably go to jail. If I trusted the Portland police it would be different—but I don't."
If Dial adheres to his probationary rules for one year, his attorney could petition the court to drop the final two years of probation. His sentence also includes ten days in jail, which he already served after his initial arrest.
Dozens of Portlanders came to the county courthouse Friday to support Dial. Since his arrest, members of the public have raised funds for his bail and petitioned Multnomah County DA Mike Schmidt to dismiss his case.
Dial shared his gratitude for his supporters Friday.
"Community is really important, and there’s a kind of buoyancy that comes with the support of the people around you that you respect and admire," said Dial. "And that is irreplaceable."