Mackenzie Lewis, a member of the far-right activist group Patriot Prayer, has been sentenced to three days in jail—and three years probation—for participating in a riot in May 2019.
"It is clear to me you are capable of making good productive choices that help those who love you and that you love," said Circuit Court Judge Benjamin Souede at the Monday sentencing hearing. "This was a bad choice. But it doesn't have to mean from here on out you make bad choices."
Lewis was found guilty of a felony riot charge on July 20 for his participation in a street brawl orchestrated by Patriot Prayer against left-wing activists on May 1, 2019 outside of the now-defunct bar Cider Riot. While two of his Patriot Prayer associations—including founder Joey Gibson—were acquitted by Souede for an identical charge, Lewis faced a jury verdict as evidence had shown him engaging in what Souede said could be characterized as a "riot" under Oregon law.
The Multnomah County District Attorney's office recommended Lewis receive a sentence of thirty days in jail, three years of probation, and a ban from attending any protest that took place without a government-issued permit.
"This riot did generate significant alarm within the community and 19 9-1-1 calls," said deputy district attorney Brad Kalbaugh Monday. "And that's the reason we think that thirty days is appropriate."
Lewis' attorney Kelly Doyle requested Lewis only receive probation and no time behind bars. Souede allowed Lewis to explain why.
"I would ask you to not give me any jail time," said Lewis. "I have a family, I have a career... I'm a plumber's apprentice. I've spent many years trying to find my passion, I've worked very hard to get here. For me to go to jail, I don't understand how it's going to make me a better person."
Souede appeared to be impacted by this reasoning offered by Lewis, who had spoken very little during the July trial.
"I think one of the mistakes we all make as humans is that we think that the world is a very simple place and only one thing can be true," said Souede. "And that's not how the world is. In this case... there are a lot of things that are obviously true all at the same time. One is, Mr. Lewis is working hard to support a family. What is also true is that a jury found that Mr. Lewis committed a crime of riot."
Souede said he was struck by how "unnecessary" Lewis actions were at the May clash.
"I don't know what you were trying to accomplish that day, but it's clear to me that you knew violence was possible or probable," Soude continued. "This is a crime against the community and this is the way the community pushes back when it has been wronged... I do believe a short jail term is appropriate because of the gravity of the circumstances."
Soude has allowed Lewis to serve the three days in jail non-consecutively and at his convenience—but they must be completed by November 1, 2022. Souede chose not to ban Lewis from attending non-permitted protests, but did say Lewis must follow his probationary requirement not to break the law, which includes not attending protests that have been declared a riot.
Lewis is currently fundraising in hopes of appealing his conviction, alleging that the county gave him an "incompetent" public defender to represent him in court.