James Buchal, the chair of the Multnomah County Republican Party said he will defend Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson in a $1 million civil suit he faces, and compared himself to Atticus Finch, a character from Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird.
Gibson and a handful of named defendants, as well as 25 other unnamed defendants, are accused of inciting a fight in May with patrons outside the Cider Riot pub in Portland. The suit alleges they were targeting those they suspected of participating in recent antifacist demonstrations, which some reporting claims were actually May Day demonstrations.
One named defendant, Ian Kramer, allegedly hit a woman in the back of the head with a baton so hard she was knocked unconscious. Video of the fight shows someone standing near Gibson use pepper spray on people sitting on the patio, who then retaliated with bear mace, from which point the fight escalated to include throwing glass and rocks.
Buchal, the Multnomah GOP Chair, compared he and Gibson’s situation to that of the characters in Harper Lee’s 1960 novel To Kill A Mockingbird.
“[I] was always taught that it was to an attorney’s credit to represent those unfairly maligned in a local community,” Buchal said. “Mr. Gibson falls into that category. His visit [to Cider Riot]…constituted political expression on a on a matter of public concern – the menace Antifa poses to the future of Portland and indeed the Nation – and should not be deemed tortious conduct.”
During a different interview, Buchal mentioned to reporters that the Multnomah County Republicans “have a continuous concern that the city administration, specifically our police commissioner Ted Wheeler, is attempting to turn antifa into a paramilitary wing of the local government.”
He continued with his belief that there is “a message from on high that the city must protect antifa at all costs,” describing the February revelation of a questionably close relationship between Gibson and a Portland Police lieutenant as a deliberate attempt to trash the police.
Buchal is otherwise known for unsuccessful electoral runs for Oregon Attorney General and U.S. Representative, and now represents a group of parents who are suing Portland Public Schools for allegedly using taxpayer dollars to support anti-gun protests. In 2017, he agreed to allow militia and extremist groups like the Proud Boys and the Three Percenters, who are classified as a hate group and an “anti-government extremist” group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, to provide security at official GOP events.
This alliance represents a strengthening of existing ties between the Republican party and extremist militia groups like these. The Proud Boys continue to stage pro-Trump and “Free Speech” rallies in Portland that continually result in violent brawls, and the Three Percenters openly supported Republican Senators who fled the state rather than vote on climate regulations, offering them “refuge” and “shelter.”
By Ian MacRonald