Patriot Prayer member convicted of riot charge in Portland

July 21, 2022 GMT

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A member of the far-right group Patriot Prayer caught on camera throwing a pepper spray can and shoving a woman in the face after a protest in Northeast Portland has been found guilty of felony riot.

A Multnomah County jury of nine women and three men returned the verdict against Mackenzie Lewis on Wednesday, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

On May 1, 2019, after a day of demonstrations, Lewis and the Patriot Prayer group approached anti-fascists who had gathered at the Cider Riot bar.

Defense attorney Kelly Doyle argued Lewis’ actions were self-defense or to protect Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson.

Deputy District Attorney Brad Kalbaugh said Lewis didn’t step in front of Gibson.

The threat was over at that point — that’s revenge,” he said. “It’s not OK, it’s not justified and it’s especially not justified when you showed up with an armed mob to precipitate the whole thing.”

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Doyle countered that Lewis had donned stiff-looking gloves and a helmet before his group approached the bar patio merely for protection from the sun.

Lewis faces a maximum of five years in prison when sentenced Aug. 1.

On Tuesday, Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Benjamin Souede acquitted Gibson and associate Russell Schultz on felony riot charges in the same incident. The judge said while Gibson was obnoxious and taunting, no reasonable jury could find their behavior at the confrontation “threatened an imminent breach of the peace.”

District Attorney Mike Schmidt in a statement said while his office respects the court’s decision regarding Gibson and Schultz, “We disagree with the legal analysis used to reach it and stand by the charges the grand jury indicted based on the facts and evidence in this case.”

Three other brawl participants with the Patriot Prayer group, Chris Ponte, Ian Kramer and Matthew Cooper, previously pleaded guilty to riot charges.

Gibson founded the Vancouver, Washington, based Patriot Prayer in 2016. He has held rallies supporting former President Donald Trump and supported other demonstrations organized by the Proud Boys — a group that’s been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.