Patriot Prayer's 'Tiny' Toese arrested at Portland airport
A frontline figure in a series of political brawls that have disrupted Portland streets was nabbed at the airport and is now behind bars, authorities say.
Tusitala John Toese — better known by his nickname, Tiny — reportedly fled to his homeland of American Samoa after being charged with felony assault by the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office earlier this year.
The 23-year-old was arrested by U.S. Marshals and local police around 10:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 4 after deplaning at Portland International Airport, according to a spokesman for the D.A.
"I have no additional information on the circumstances surrounding the arrest," said the spokesman, Brent Weisberg.
Toese now sits in the downtown jail, booked on two warrants: one for violating probation after he was convicted of harassment following a 2017 street fight with black-clad anti-fascists — and another for allegedly punching a man in the face in Northeast Portland in 2018.
Eric Ward, executive director of the Portland-based Western States Center, praised the arrest as an "encouraging sign" that law enforcement is cracking down on protest violence.
"(Toese) must be held responsible for sowing chaos and violence in our community," Ward said. "We look to local authorities to take further steps to prevent violence and intimidation by racist and sexist organizations active in our region."
In the 2018 incident, Toese and another member of the right-wing Patriot Prayer movement, Donovon Flippo, apparently jumped from a pick-up on June 8 and attacked counter-protester Timothy Ledwith, who had shouted at them from a Broadway street corner.
Flippo was eventually convicted of fourth-degree assault and sentenced to time served in jail and two years of probation, according to court records. But Toese escaped to the unincorporated America territory where he was born, leading a Multnomah County grand jury to issue a secret indictment against him on Feb. 28 of this year.
Despite his nom de guerre, Toese cuts an imposing figure — he is six feet, four inches tall and weighs about 265 pounds, jail records indicate.
He once served as a top lieutenant to Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson, but prior to his notoriety he had held down jobs in construction, as a cargo handler and as an "alcohol monitor" at Dirty Nightclub, according to court docs, and lived in Vancouver with Flippo.
Reached for comment, Gibson — who is fighting a felony riot accusation for his conduct during the May Day melee in Northeast Portland outside local bar Cider Riot — distanced himself from his one-time compatriot's legal troubles.
"From what I understand Tiny is excited to face this and get it done," Gibson said. "I don't think this has anything to do with me."
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