Patriot Prayer Group Receives Backlash

Patriot Prayer and Solidarity Against Hate groups hold demonstrations in Seattle. Solidarity Against Hate is a Seattle “General Defense Committee” to stand up against far-right extremists. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

 

Portland-based alt-right activist group Patriot Prayer has received media backlash after protests and group proceedings have turned to violence. With that, they continue planning demonstrations and events, according to the group’s founder Joey Gibson’s public updates.

Patriot Prayer’s about page on Facebook preaches that their group favors “using the power of love and prayer to fight the corruption both in the government and citizen levels that seek to gain power through division and deception.” Meanwhile, the group is controversially associated with white supremacists. Gibson has disagreed, saying, “I don’t care if you’re a Democrat, a Republican, it doesn’t matter to me. What I’m trying to do is bring people together who believe in freedom, believe in love, believe in peace, and believe in free speech.” He denies being associated with white supremacy.

As a controversial alt-right group in a largely left area, their protests often have resulted in fights between the two sides of the political spectrum or with the police. In a Willamette Week article published November 15, the details of the Portland Police Bureau’s spending costs this year revealed that the costs police put towards the protests are large. With the purchases of food, water, and anti-crowd weapons, each of these protests can cost $100,000 for the police department. It was recorded that 74% of police resources were spent on policing Patriot Prayer and anti-Patriot Prayer protests.

The group continues to protest. Their most recent issue is meant to give a platform to men who have been falsely accused of rape— titling it #HimToo in response to the #MeToo movement. Due to the dangers of previous protests, such as the recent one on August 4 through August 6 that turned into a brawl between antifa-supporters and Patriot Prayer protesters after they began harassing one another, federal protection for Patriot Prayer will be held in certain future protests to ensure that both sides won’t become violent. Under these precautions they will set up checkpoints and only allow Patriot Prayer members into the protesting area.

Towards the end of October, Gibson was brought back into the papers, with a defense piece written on him. After an opinion story on Gibson’s group titled “The misunderstood Joey Gibson,” by Elizabeth Hovde of The Oregonian, some readers felt as if this story defended racism and violence, which are not openly preached by the group, but are common ground among some of its members. This prompted some negative feedback and another opinion piece from Portland Mercury’s Alex Zielinski titled “Dear Oregonian: Joey Gibson Doesn’t Need Your Understanding.” These opposing stories have dived into what Gibson and his group are about, and it has allowed readers to form fuller opinions on the group and its issues.

In most recent news, Patriot Prayer was denied service from a merchandise retailer under the pretenses of terms of use violation. After this decision, the company GivingFuel said in a statement that “our goal is to empower organizations to positively impact the world and we make great software to help them do it.” They afterwards clarified that this was not a decision in defiance of the group. Even with that, their decision unsettled Gibson who claimed that this was a failure to defend his ‘unpopular speech.’

The future of this group is unclear, but Gibson and his group are consistently making new plans.

 

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