On August 15, 2019 an alleged website malfunction at the office of the Multnomah County District Attorney’s office has revealed that the District Attorney (without waiting for his grand jury to indict), has rushed to file criminal charges against Mr. Joseph Gibson. The District Attorney claims that Mr. Gibson committed the crime of “riot” (ORS 166.015), which requires proof of “tumultuous and violent conduct” by Mr. Gibson. There are multiple videos of the events at Cider Riot, and not one of them shows Mr. Gibson engaging in violent conduct.
Mr. Gibson was repeatedly pepper-sprayed and spat upon by violent members of Antifa, none of whom have been arrested or charged for their conduct on May 1st. It is not as though the government is ignorant of the identity of the Antifa combatants; even now, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission refuses to release an investigative report about Cider Riot that Mr. Gibson requested long ago, which should identify other combatants.
These charges represent a total failure of the Multnomah County District Attorney’s office to distinguish between violent conduct and the exercise of First Amendment rights. Worse still, by arresting only one side of the alleged “riot,” the District Attorney of Multnomah County is by all appearances acting as a special prosecutor for Antifa.
These criminal proceedings are part and parcel of the dishonest campaign by Portland leaders to blame out-of-town demonstrators for violence that began and persists because Antifa wants to shut down any right-wing demonstrations in Portland. Antifa publicly asserts its insistence on shutting down these demonstrations by any means necessary, and to date, nearly all the perpetrators of Antifa violence have escaped justice.
If Mr. Gibson’s conduct on May 1st constitutes “riot,” so does the conduct of thousands of peaceful demonstrators who have appeared on the streets of Portland standing near violent Antifa members. The District Attorney’s decision to destroy constitutional protections against free speech by charging a peaceful protester with a crime of violence makes this a dark day for the rule of law in Oregon.
James L. Buchal
Murphy & Buchal LLP
3425 SE Yamhill Street, Suite 100
Portland, OR 97214