Andy Ngo's lawsuit against Rose City Antifa clears hurdle
A right-wing Portland journalist's legal battle with left-wing activists will move forward after a Multnomah County judge rejected a courtroom maneuver that would have tossed out the case as frivolous.
Circuit Judge Kathleen M. Dailey denied on Dec. 15 a special motion to strike down the suit, which was filed by plaintiff Andy Ngo against Rose City Antifa, five named protesters who are alleged to have attacked or harassed him, and numerous other unnamed defendants in June. It seeks $900,000 in damages.
Lawyers for defendant Benjamin Bolen — who said he has been misidentified as an assailant of Ngo during a demonstration that occurred at a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility — had hoped the judge would deem the suit a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, or SLAPP, and thereby end the litigation at an early stage.
That didn't happen, and Dailey also granted a motion by Ngo's lawyers Harmeet K. Dhillon and James L. Buchal to strike testimony made by Bolen and writer Shane Burley from the record.
"Defendant himself admits that a punch to the stomach is not protected conduct," wrote the judge.
Bolen, who admitted he attended the May 1, 2019, protest at ICE while clad in black, is a Portland State University student working toward a doctorate in mechanical engineering. Bolen said he never struck Ngo, and was incorrectly identified as the man behind the mask by a Twitter user named "SomeBasedGuy."
Bolen submitted photos to the court suggesting he is not the person shown in footage of the attack, while Ngo maintains Bolen always carried a distinctive skateboard at protests and has merely changed his weight and hairstyle.
"Mr. Ngo engages in stochastic terrorism by both demonizing leftists and posting their personal identifying information online," Bolen said in a declaration. "While it does not surprise me that Mr. Ngo has rushed to judgment with faulty information in an effort to demonize someone with political views that differ from his own, I did not punch Mr. Ngo."
Ngo said he posts public records in order to shine light on a violent political movement, while activists say he seeks to spur harassment or violence by publicly identifying activists.
"Antifa calls for insurrectionary anarchy and revolution to overthrow the American government," Ngo testified.
Statements by Bolen and Burley regarding such "doxing" allegations — as well as a claim that Ngo is using the lawsuit as a fundraiser — were stricken from the legal record, with Judge Dailey citing a lack of evidence or personal knowledge.
Proceedings also have focused on the difficulty of serving defendants Madison Lee Allen and Joseph Christians Evans with notice of the lawsuit against them; both have presumably gone off the grid due to active warrants, according to court documents. Rose City Antifa has not been served either.
At the heart of the suit is the infamous June 2019 "milkshake protest" in downtown Portland that rocketed Ngo to national attention after he was pelleted by a crowd while filming. No one ever was arrested during the incident, and Ngo, now with the Post Millennial, has netted a massive social media following as the city's top critic of anti-fascist protesters. Ngo had less than 4,000 followers on Twitter before he began covering antifa, court papers detail.
"This is finally a step in the right direction for the rule of law in Portland where the police, district attorney's office, and local politicians have totally failed to bring justice to the perpetrators of this heinous act, and we brought this lawsuit as a last resort in the face of their unwillingness to enforce the law," said Dhillon, CEO of the Center for American Liberty.
She continued: "We look forward to litigating the substance of these claims against those who stalked and assaulted Ngo last year in Portland, where antifa operates with impunity."
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