Cover photo from Shane Burley
On June 26th, Joey Gibson, a Republican running for a Washington State Senate seat and leader of Patriot Prayer, a big tent far-Right group, took to Facebook to describe the goals for his latest protest rally that was scheduled to take place in Portland, Oregon.
Writing ominously, Joey very clearly spelled out the violence that was to come:
[T]he stench-covered and liberal-occupied streets of Portland will be CLEANSED.
CLEANSED, I say.
The streets will be flowing with freedom, and the air will be filled with patriotism. And fear will have no place in our midst…Recourse will be swift, for those who wish to oppress our freedoms…And the hands of Justice shall smite them with a vengeance heretofore unknown to these ne’er-do-wells. Join me, Patriots…let the memories and struggles of our Founding Fathers not be in vain.
Gibson, who claims God talks to him regularly, had a lot riding on this demonstration. In the media during the roll out announcement of his Senate campaign, he had stated that he was done with organizing far-Right political rallies, known for attracting antifascist opposition, but also members of the Alt-Right and various neo-Nazi groups. Perhaps his most famous former rally attendee was Jeremy Christian, who went on to murder two people on a Portland train in 2017 while narrowly failing to kill another, after harassing two young black women with racist and Islamophobic remarks. Christian was seen at a Patriot Prayer march not long before the murders in June giving out Nazi salutes like they were candy on Halloween, and to this day, many that attend Patriot Prayer events refuse to condemn his actions – much as they contend that Unite the Right in Charlottesville was a “false flag.”
— Always Antifascist (@RoseCityAntifa) June 5, 2017
While Gibson went out of his way in the media to distance himself from Christian, he still continued to pose in photos with neo-Nazis from groups such as Identity Evropa. In fact, one of his lieutenants, Tiny Toese, even called IE organizer Jake Van Ott on the phone once to tell him:
“Tiny reached out to me and called me up over Facebook and said, ‘You know, I support [IE] and what you do,” Von Ott said.
Von Ott added that Toese told him IE members were “the only people that actually were up front the entire time along with the Street Preachers. The Oath Keepers just sat back—in his words—with their fancy gear and stayed in the back the whole time.”
This mirrors Gibson’s support and close relationship to the uber-reactionary, homophobic, and racist group the “Hell Shacking Street Preachers,” best know for mimicking the idiots at “God Hates Fags” with their hateful banners and both physical and verbal attacks. And despite Gibson stating on his campaign website that he supports Gay Marriage, he has in the past attended PRIDE events along with the Street Preachers in order to harass and attack queer and trans people. Unsurprisingly, some within the Hate Preachers group, openly identify as white nationalists.
On May 26, 2018, Joey Gibson gave a speech wherein he spouted a revisionist history of the fascist rampage in #Cville. Tiny broadcast the speech on facebook with the logo of FOAK, a fascist organization founded by Gibson & Kessler's mutual friend Kyle Chapman. pic.twitter.com/3SqOMfUxKV
— Always Antifascist (@RoseCityAntifa) June 29, 2018
But despite telling the media that he was taking a break from organizing violent far-Right protests, Gibson soon was doing anything but, and by May Day 2018, had returned to organizing demonstrations. In early June, Patriot Prayer rallied in Portland only to see a small far-Right turn out, and in the end, were literally marched out of Portland by antifascists. The next week, a demonstration Joey tried to organize against Planned Parenthood also received embarrassingly low attendance on the Patriot Prayer side. Gibson, who has been fired from his job as a real estate agent and lives off of donations from “the movement,” knew then that his next event had to be big, and violent.
This is your regular reminder that Allen Pucket is a SELF-DESCRIBED WHITE NATIONALIST. He also terrorizes the community with the other "preachers" on the regular. pic.twitter.com/pPcu9DsJk9
— Always Antifascist (@RoseCityAntifa) June 2, 2018
Nazi Salutes, Racial Slurs, and Calls to Murder Undocumented People
Joey soon sent word across the various far-Right west coast networks that included hardcore Trump supporters, militia groups, and especially, chapters of Proud Boys. Soon, Gibson had reps from groups across the country planning to attend, using the June 3rd defeat of Patriot Prayer as a rallying cry.
This guy was yelling the n-word at protesters. pic.twitter.com/83RISK1Mqk
— Shane Burley (@shane_burley1) July 2, 2018
“Tiny and several friends took to cruising the streets of Portland, hurling insults and pro-Trump slogans at people, until they found someone, anyone, who disagreed with them. Leaping from the truck, Tiny and another huge Proud Boy, Donovan Flippo, savagely beat a random person on the street who was then sent to the hospital.”
In many ways, the Proud Boys and Joey Gibson are a great match. Largely, both of them don’t have revolutionary aspirations – instead, what they want most of all is to be called on by the State in order to attack perceived enemies of the existing social order. Chiefly this means social movements in the streets, but also journalists who are critical of Trump (or the Proud Boys and the far-Right), migrants, people of color, queer and trans people, and so on. While they paint themselves as “working-class” men in Fred Perry shirts, in reality they feed largely off their associations with rich and powerful men on the Right, from Tucker Carlson to Roger Stone, to their leader, millionaire Gavin McInnes, and aim their violence at social movements coming from the working-class and poor.
But despite a lack of any clear message other than unwavering support for Trump and “the West,” the one thing that unites Gibson’s followers is a violent desire to attack anyone as seen as “on the Left,” a reality which Gibson explained in his interview with Reveal in late summer of last year. This reality could be seen most clearly when a few weeks before June 30th, Tiny and several friends took to cruising the streets of Portland, hurling insults and pro-Trump slogans at people, until they found someone, anyone, who disagreed with them. Leaping from the truck, Tiny and another huge Proud Boy, Donovan Flippo, savagely beat a random person on the street who was then sent to the hospital. Despite a clear ID on both Tiny and Flippo, charges have yet to be filed.
[T]he attack happened in a busy shopping area in Portland at around 2.30pm on Friday 8 June. Toese and two other men had been yelling at strangers from a truck, he said. “They were yelling: ‘Support Trump, build the wall,’” Ledwith said.
[The man attacked] responded with a profanity, and the men stopped their vehicle. He said Toese and another man, Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer supporter Donovan Flippo, got out.
“They were calling me a faggot and slinging epithets at me,” he said. “Tiny walked over calmly and … punched me in the face. I’m like, half his size. I was not a threat to them. I’m 34 years old, not 17. This is not a thing that happens to me day-to-day.”
“With this attack, the Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer moved from being simply a protest movement to a group of people that actively are seeking to engage in random violence against members of the public.”
With this attack, the Proud Boys and members of Patriot Prayer, at this point essentially the same organization, moved from being simply a protest movement that was willing to use violence, to a group of people that actively are seeking to engage in random violence against members of the public that it deems to be a political opponent of President Trump. For many, the truck attack in Portland brought memories back of the late 1980s and 90s, when neo-Nazi skinhead groups would randomly attack people of color, punks, queers, and others.
But the violence was just starting. On June 30th, clashes broke out in the streets of Portland, in what many described as the worst political violence seen on the streets since Charlottesville. In the days following the clashes, Gibson and others associated with the rally appeared on InfoWars, and posts on social media coming from Patriot Prayer and the Proud Boys only increased in their support for the violence, attacking anyone online that pushed back against their narrative, and celebrated those that were sent to the hospital on the antifascist side.
But while the Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer have been keen on celebrating the amount of violence they were able to dish out with near complete police and DHS cover, at the same time, hardly any one has commented on other aspects of the June 30th rally. Now, as the dust has cleared, video footage from the day clearly shows Proud Boys calling for the murder of undocumented people, rally attendees yelling racial anti-black slurs while standing next to neo-Nazis who attended Unite the Right, and also throwing up neo-Nazi salutes.
In the video below, we see a Proud Boy organizer calling, “For all the illegals trying to jump over our border, we should be smashing their heads into the concrete – handlin business, separating them from their kids.”
In the next video seen below, we see cast of characters, including Amber Cummings from the bay area, who is another key figure within the far-Right that works closely with the leader of a group, Kyle “Based Stickman” Chapman, that fought in Charlottesville, the Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights (FOAK). We also see the Proud Boy member, Rob Cantrall, who gained 15 minutes of fame for threatening to burn down a Berkeley bookstore – so much for free speech! On top of a man with a red shirt that can be clearly seen throwing up a Nazi salute while creaming the “n-word,” to his right is Christopher Richie, who also attended the neo-Nazi “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville on August 12th, 2017. Richie has a long history of engaging in and threatening violence, and despite his open ties to the neo-Nazi section of the far-Right, was welcomed with open arms by Gibson and the Proud Boys.
Christopher Richie, attendee of the neo-Nazi rally, Unite the Right and the Patriot Prayer rally on June 30th.
While much as been written about the level of violence that broke out on Saturday, the media by and large has not reported on both the open neo-Nazi salutes or the violent rhetoric of the Proud Boys and members of Patriot Prayer towards large segments of society. Moreover, the media has not covered the internet harassment and death threats aimed at activists and journalists following the 30th, even as large sections of the Right celebrate the near murder of several people brave enough to stand up to these monsters.
One thing is clear: far from being united just around a hatred of the Left and a violent drive to attack anyone they deem associated with it, Joey Gibson and his followers also have a growing desire to carry out acts of violence against other broad sections of the population. If anything, they see antifascists as the deterrent to which they are held back from doing so.
What makes this even more disturbing is the fact that local law enforcement are not only facilitating and protecting these groups, but also even view them as “mainstream.”
Open Partnership With Local Law-enforcement
June 30th ended on a sour note for Patriot Prayer: the failed to clear any “scum” off the streets despite all of the violence they dished out, they failed to have their march, and although they rounded up troops from across to the US, Joey Gibson and others failed to bring out numbers that could match those of the local “scum.” In the end, they got back on their buses to cries that the police and Mayor had “betrayed” them, heads buried in their phones, ready to promote the next conspiracy theory. Despite this temper tantrum, over the last year local and federal law enforcement has done almost everything in its power to protect and accommodate Patriot Prayer.
“it seems to these “Patriots,” freedom and liberty were fine to tread on, as long as they were the ones that were doing it to others.”
In 2017, after the Jeremy Christian killings, despite their connection to Patriot Prayer, the police still worked to protect the far-Right group from a much larger counter demonstration when Joey Gibson decided to hold a rally a week after the murders. After Gibson’s rally was over, police even proceeded to attack the antifascist protest with projectile weapons, allowing the far-Right rally attendees to safely get to their cars. Police then proceeded to kettle demonstrators, only letting them leave after having shown police their ID. Later, militia members help police make arrests of antifascists. It seems to these “Patriots,” freedom and liberty were fine to tread on, as long as they were the ones that were doing it to others.
Just after his Alt-Right goons attacked a random person on the street, Joey Gibson claims he met with DHS to plan his next far-Right rally on June 30th. Yet another example of the State and the police facilitating far-Right organizing and working together against antifascists. pic.twitter.com/Z9per2VSyk
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) June 16, 2018
According to Willamette Week, a new report found that:
[P]olice had more robust communication with Patriot Prayer organizers by exchanging frequent text messages, and officers viewed the protesters on the left as “volatile.”
Now WW has obtained the longer, draft versions of that report via a public records request. In those drafts, a Portland police officer told investigators that Patriot Prayer was “much more mainstream” than their leftist counterparts.
In the lead up to the June 30th rally, Joey Gibson also worked very closely with DHS agents and local Portland police, who in turn, acted with kid gloves during the demonstration. This allowed the far-Right protesters cover to attack antifascists, while DHS shot at them with pepper-balls. In another instance, both Tiny and Flippo were arrested, and then let go after being cited for misdemeanors, but given no court date. Likewise, despite ample footage of known Proud Boys seen engaging in deadly assaults, police made no attempt to make arrests, yet paid hospital visits to injured antifascists in order to charge them. The message is clear: far-Right violence gets a green light from the State.
This type of relationship between federal and local law enforcement follows a dangerous pattern we have seen play out in other cities, where police look upon the far-Right, who is clearly engaging in more violence both at rallies and as solo actors, as a group of victims, and anyone that stands up to them as instead a group of criminals and terrorists.
Our new podcast features an interview with Cedric, a journalist who was stabbed by Nazis in Sacramento in 2016. In the aftermath, police attempted to work with skinheads to charge Cedric with conspiracy + rioting. Their evidence? A photo of a "black fist." https://t.co/k7Q8FCglVs pic.twitter.com/pIo3VJ2azy
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) June 8, 2018
This dynamic played out in Sacramento after neo-Nazi skinheads stabbed a group of protesting antifascists. In the aftermath, police attempted to work with one of the neo-Nazis who engaged in the stabbing, claiming they were “victims,” and attempted to work together to ID antifascist protesters. One of these people was an African-American journalist, who police claim was of interest because in his Facebook photos, he was seen doing a black fist salute.
What becomes crystal clear in all of this needs to be repeated time and time again: all of this has nothing to do with keeping “the public safe,” and everything to do with the police and far-Right working together against a common enemy: social movements seeking grassroots change. Moreover, if we are looking for a solution to this problem, it will be found in community self-defense, in multiple ways, and not through the State itself.
As always, the Centrist and even “progressive” media narrative misses the point. What happened on the streets of Portland on June 30th was not the 2018 version of West Side Story. Instead, we are seeing the growth of a fascist street movement that is both protected and supported by the police, as well as some segments of the ruling class. This in itself, at a time of growing political repression, should be met with the upmost seriousness that it deserves. In short, the State is extending its franchise on its monopoly of violence to segments of the far-Right that openly promote Alt-Right, neo-Nazi, and white nationalist politics.
“despite ample footage of Proud Boys engaging in deadly assaults, police made no attempt to make arrests, yet paid hospital visits to injured antifascists in order to charge them. The message is clear: far-Right violence gets a green light from the State.”
For all those that would rather antifascists stay home in the face of this growing violent threat, the question to must be asked: who will stand with the undocumented when the Nazi saluting Proud Boys make good on their word to “bash their heads into the concrete?” Who stands up for journalists that are already getting home visits from this very organization, simply for exposing their leadership? But moreover, who stands up to the collusion between the far-Right and the police, when the very institution that Centrists and liberals cling to: the State, clearly sides with the far-Right as well?
As always, if people want to ensure that groups like the Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer never become large enough to take their rhetoric of mass violence and murder off and outside the internet and insular rallies and into the real world, then the easiest thing they can do is show up in mass numbers and shut these people down.