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After less than two days of trial, a judge says prosecutors failed to prove their case.

PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson arrives in downtown Portland and is confronted by protesters in an August 2020 protest. Gibson has been acquitted of inciting a riot in 2019.The trial of a man charged with inciting a riot in Portland is over and the case has been thrown out.

Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson had faced a single charge stemming from a street brawl outside Cider Riot!, a now-closed bar in Northeast Portland, on May 1, 2019.

In his Tuesday, July 19 ruling, Multnomah County Circuit Judge Benjamin Souede case said the prosecution failed to demonstrate that Gibson engaged in "tumultuous 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 at an incident where violence occurred," Souede said. "It's the job of this court to prevent that kind of overreach. That's not to say that the court is suggesting this behavior was good or morally acceptable, are in any way positive, or useful. But we live in a community that's governed by laws and under the law. If this defendant could be convicted of riot in this case, there would be no protection for protesters in Oregon."

The ruling came on just the second day of the trial. Four days of jury selection wrapped up Friday, July 15.

Video of the May 2019 incident shows both Gibson and other Patriot Prayer involved in a fight that spilled into the middle of the street. Prosecutors alleged Gibson taunted and threatened left-wing protesters in a deliberate effort to provoke a fight. The left-wing protesters sometimes are referred to as anti-fascist or "antifa."

Gibson pleaded not guilty in September 2019.

Since his arrest, court documents show he's used a number of legal maneuvers to delay the trial or get the venue changed. He also said Portland city leaders targeted him, and he claimed his arrest was politically motivated.

Three other Patriot Prayer members — Chris Ponte, Ian Kramer and Matthew Cooper — were indicted and pleaded guilty to charges related to the Cider Riot! brawl.

In May 2021, Kramer was sentenced to 20 months in prison and formal supervised probation.

Abram Goldman-Armstrong, who owned Cider Riot!, sued Gibson and Patriot Prayer members for making the bar a target for violence from his far-right group. That civil suit has yet to be settled.

KOIN 6 News is a partner of Pamplin Media Group.


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