Suit alleges that state officers collaborated with Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson and his members in illegal arrest of man on college campus
Far-right leader Joey Gibson, several current and former associates and three Washington state patrol (WSP) police officers are facing a civil rights lawsuit over a violent confrontation at Evergreen State College on 15 June 2017.
Gibson is the leader of the rightwing activist group Patriot Prayer and the suit is one of a proliferating set of legal efforts associated with Gibsons activities in Oregon and Washington throughout the Trump era.
The violent incident, which was captured on several videos made by Gibson associates, took place during a rally staged by Patriot Prayer in support of Professor Bret Weinstein, who was at the center of national controversy over his opposition to a day of absence for white staff and students at the college.
The suit has been brought by Washington state civil rights lawyer Larry Hildes on behalf of his client, Joseph Robinson. It alleges WSP officers collaborated with Patriot Prayer members in the illegal arrest and detention of Robinson at the College.
In a phone conversation, Hildes said that the aim of the suit was to get the state patrol reined in and to encourage policy changes. In relation to Patriot Prayer, Hildes said: I want to shut them down.
I want them out of business, Hildes said of the far-right protest group. I want them out of existence as an entity.
Patriot Prayers incursion on to the campus on a rainy afternoon was counter-protested by anti-fascist activists, students and staff. Over a number of hours, Patriot Prayer and anti-fascists exchanged blows and pepper spray. Gibson and others were covered in silly string by antifascists, and Gibson at one point sustained a facial wound.
A large number of WSP riot police struggled to contain the melee.
The suit focuses on one incident in which it alleges WSP and rightwing demonstrators collaborated in violating Robinsons civil rights when he was allegedly grabbed by Patriot Prayers members at the direction of Gibson, and then handed to the police, who arrested him without asking any questions.
Video of the incident shot by Gibson-aligned videographer Robert Zerfing shows Robinson being dragged by the neck with a bandana he had been wearing as a mask. After Robinson was arrested, he was jailed and charged with disorderly conduct. A criminal case was pursued against him for 11 months before being dropped by the Thurston county prosecutor.
Hildess complaint alleges that WSPs posture effectively authorized Patriot Prayer to make arrests.
The suit is one of many arising from Gibsons street protests, and his conflicts with leftists in Washington and Oregon.
Contacted by phone, Gibson said he had not previously heard about the suit. Asked generally about the range of legal actions and prosecutions against him, Gibson said: Theyre just trying to silence me. Weve just got to push through.
A WSP spokesman said via email that it would be unfair to all concerned to comment on until resolved in court.
Gibson and other associates are also defendants in a suit brought by Cider Riot, a Portland cidery popular with the citys radical left that was the center of a violent brawl in May this year, after Gibson and his associates made their way there, some armed with bricks, batons and chemical weapons.
The ciderys owner, Abram Goldman-Armstrong, is seeking $1m from Gibson and his co-defendants.