After less than two days of trial, a judge said prosecutors had failed to prove their case.
The trial of a man accused of inciting a riot in Portland has ended and the case has been dismissed.
Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson had faced a single charge stemming from a street fight outside Cider Riot!, a now-closed bar in northeast Portland, on May 1, 2019.
In his Tuesday, July 19 decision, Multnomah County Circuit Judge Benjamin Souede said the prosecution failed to show that Gibson engaged in “riotous and violent content,” which is a requirement for the riot charge.
“Essentially, in this case, the state appears to be trying to convict Mr. Schultz for being present during an incident where violence occurred,” Souede said. “It’s the job of this court to prevent that kind of excess. That’s not to say the court is suggesting that this behavior was good or morally acceptable, that it’s somehow positive or helpful. But we live in a community governed by laws, and under the law, if this defendant could be found guilty of rioting in this case, there would be no protection for protesters in Oregon.
The decision fell on the second day of the trial. Four days of jury selection ended on Friday, July 15.
Video of the May 2019 incident shows both Gibson and other Patriot Prayers involved in a fight that spilled out into the middle of the street. Prosecutors alleged that Gibson provoked and threatened left-wing protesters in a deliberate effort to provoke a fight. Left-wing protesters are sometimes referred to as anti-fascists or “antifa”.
Gibson pleaded not guilty in September 2019.
Since his arrest, court documents show that he has used a number of legal maneuvers to delay the trial or have the venue changed. He also said Portland city leaders targeted him and he claimed his arrest was politically motivated.
Three other members of Patriot Prayer – Chris Ponte, Ian Kramer and Matthew Cooper – have been indicted and pleaded guilty to charges related to the Cider Riot! fight.
In May 2021, Kramer was sentenced to 20 months in prison and formal supervised probation.
Abram Goldman-Armstrong, owner of Cider Riot!, sued Gibson and Patriot Prayer for making the bar a target of violence from his far-right group. This civil lawsuit has not yet been settled.
KOIN 6 News is a partner of Pamplin Media Group.
You rely on us to stay informed and we rely on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.