The lawyer representing right-wing activist Joey Gibson doesn't think his client would get a fair trial in the city where Gibson allegedly committed a crime.
"The inhabitants of the county are so prejudiced against Mr. Gibson that Mr. Gibson cannot possibly expect an impartial trial in the county," writes Angus Lee, Gibson's lawyer, in a motion filed February 18. "Mr. Gibson cannot appear in public in Multnomah County without encountering masked residents who spit upon him and physically attack him."
Gibson, founder of the right-wing Vancouver, WA group Patriot Prayer, is facing riot charges from his involvement in a May 1, 2019 street brawl outside a Northeast Portland bar. The brawl was initiated after Gibson, along with several other members of Patriot Prayer armed with pepper spray and batons, approached the Cider Riot pub—a popular spot for anti-fascist activists—and began harassing patrons sitting outside. After one right-wing agitator shot pepper spray into the pub's patio, a violent fight broke out on the adjacent sidewalk and street. Gibson and his allies only dispersed after Patriot Prayer member Ian Kramer knocked a woman unconscious.
Gibson, Kramer, and four other Patriot Prayer affiliates—Mackenzie Lewis, Russell Schultz, Christopher Ponte, and Matthew Cooper—were arrested for their involved in the fight. Ponte and Cooper have both reached plea deals with the county. The court, meanwhile, has consolidated the cases of Gibson, Kramer, Lewis, and Schultz.
That trial is set to begin on Monday, March 2.
That's if Lee, Gibson's lawyer, doesn't get his way. In a 27-page document, Lee lays out his argument for relocating his client's case.
"A uniform and organized campaign of propaganda from Portland leaders, news media, and political opponents has demonized Mr. Gibson, as a violent, white supremacist, Nazi," Lee begins.
Lee calls Portland City Council's vote to condemn white supremacy as a personal attack on Gibson, accuses Mayor Ted Wheeler of trying "de-platform conservative political expression" by criticizing violent rallies, and chides Portland Rep. Earl Blumenaur for expressing his support of Cider Riot after the pub filed a civil lawsuit against Patriot Prayer and Gibson.
He also accuses the Portland media of unfairly linking his client to white supremacist movements, simply because avowed white nationalists regularly attend his events. Lee continues: "Media articles also attempt to push the theme that Mr. Gibson’s legitimate protests are nothing more than 'thinly veiled pretexts' to engage in street violence."
Later in the document, Lee places blame on the Portland Mercury for Facebook comments criticizing Gibson made in response to a Mercury article. (To be clear, these comments were made by Facebook users, not the Mercury). He also scolds the Oregonian for printing the names of people and organizations who supported Wheeler's call for unity before a planned alt-right rally (by the famously violent and sexist Proud Boys) in August 2019. This action, Lee writes, reflects "the high degree of hostility within the Portland community to any demonstrations contrary to the socialist goals of Antifa."
When Wheeler criticized the Proud Boys for bringing fear to Portland, Lee said Wheeler "pushed a narrative that falsely assigned moral responsibility to the citizens exercising First Amendment rights rather than the violent thugs attempting to 'de-platform' them."
The accusations go on, including a comparison of Gibson to Roger Stone, the Trump pal/advisor charged with impeding a federal investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election.
"If ever there was a case where a change of venue was appropriate," Lee concludes, "this is it."
This isn't the first time Gibson's requested a trial be moved out of Portland. In September, Gibson asked Multnomah County Judge Andrew Lavin to relocate his civil trial—the case filed by Cider Riot—out of Multnomah County. Lavin rejected the request.
"The facts alleged in the complaint are alleged to occur here in Multnomah County," Lavin said at the time. "Therefore, it should be tried in Multnomah County."
The court has yet to respond to Gibson's latest request.