COOS BAY — On Saturday, Aug. 10, a group of Second Amendment rights defenders have invited Joey Gibson from the group Patriot Prayer to speak at a rally on the Coos Bay Boardwalk.
The event is being hosted by Oregon Second Amendment Sanctuary, Patriot Prayer, The Rob Taylor Report and Coos County Watchdog. The rally will begin at 3 p.m. and last until 5 p.m. Following the rally a potluck will be held from 6 to 10 p.m. at the North Bend Community Center.
Local activist Rob Taylor organized the event two months ago in response to several gun-related bills that were being introduced to the Oregon Legislature.
“There were several very bad gun bills that were coming out of the Legislature, such as SB-978,” Taylor said. “As a way to counter this bad legislation we filed a Second Amendment sanctuary ordinance here in Coos County that would strengthen people’s rights in the county to not have to worry about all these gun laws… I wanted to have an event to celebrate this campaign, and that’s why we’re having a Second Amendment rally."
Gibson has been in the news lately regarding his involvement in a May Day counter-protest held by his group Patriot Prayer that turned violent in Portland. The clash happened at the northeast Portland business Cider Riot, when counter protesters began fighting with patrons.
Cider Riot was holding a May Day event for people who had been protesting earlier in the day, an event that the Gibson and counter protesters believed was a gathering of the anti-fascist group Antifa.
The owner of Cider Riot has requested a jury trial and $1 million in damages in a lawsuit, accusing Patriot Prayer and Gibson of acting negligently, trespassing and intentionally inflicting emotional distress on his employees and patrons.
In response to the lawsuit, Gibson has asked a Multnomah County judge to move the trial outside of the Portland area, because he believes the area has a bias toward him and he will not be given a fair trial.
Gibson argues in a signed declaration that potential jurors drawn from in and around Portland are tainted. He claims that Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, city commissioners Jo Ann Hardesty and Chloe Eudaly and U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon, have made prejudicial statements against him. Gibson also says media coverage has falsely labeled him as a white supremacist and far-right extremist.
Often at protests, members of the Proud Boys, a far-right neo-fascist organization that admits only men as members and promotes political violence, ally themselves with members of Patriot Prayer causing some of the white supremacist and fascist rhetoric some people associate with Gibson’s group.
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“We are not Nazis, we are not white supremacists, we are not are not white nationalists," Taylor said. "I believe in equal justice for all, and I get tired of being labeled these things by people who have never even met me."
Patriot Prayer has on a number of occasions clashed with the Antifa. News of Gibson’s Coos County visit sparked members of Eugene Antifa to post about the event on Facebook, claiming known white supremacists will be attending.
Patriot Prayer responded by claiming the post lied about the event and called for violence against Gibson. Gibson finished his response to the Eugene Antifa post by writing “Take them all down.”
Finally, Eugene Antifa responded by reposting information about the event, claiming that its first post was taken down because Gibson had the post mass reported so Facebook would remove the content.
Coos Bay Police are aware of the upcoming rally and have said they will have a presence at the event. Coos Bay Police Chief Gary McCullough said he has been in contact with the event’s organizers and hopes for a safe rally.
“We’ve been in contact with Rob Taylor, the event organizer, and discussed the possible issues that might arise. We will have a presence there,” McCullough said.
A date for Gibson's trial has not yet been announced, but it has been reported he will be receiving legal representation from James Buchal, who is a Portland attorney and the chairman of the Multnomah County Republican Party.
The Willamette Week recently released an exclusive article revealing that an investigation has been launched into communications between Gibson and Portland Police Lt. Jeff Niiya, the officer leading the bureau's rapid response team that patrols protests. According to the article, Gibson shared a video with an officer with incriminating evidence of harassment being caused by Portland anti- fascist protest organizer Luis Marquez.
While the Multnomah County DA stands by the charges against Marquez, there are messages between Niiya and Gibson that have drawn criticism for appearing to show coordination between Gibson and Portland Police.