Lawyers Add New Claims and Defendants to Lawsuit Targeting Right-Wing Violence at Cider Riot

"Defendants were spoiling for a fight," the lawsuit alleges.

Masked anti-ICE protesters in Portland on May 1, 2019. (Wesley Lapointe)

After filing a civil suit against Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson, lawyers for a Portland cider bar have added new charges related to economic interference—and named four more defendants—in the $1 million lawsuit following a riot outside the bar on May 1.

The suit, filed pro bono on behalf of Cider Riot owner Abram Goldman-Armstrong, alleges Gibson and his followers acted negligently, trespassed, intentionally inflicted emotional distress and interfered with economic relations.

"Defendants were spoiling for a fight," the lawsuit alleges.

The Oregon Justice Resource Center represents Goldman-Armstrong.

Along with Gibson, a man named Ian Kramer was named in the original complaint for allegedly hitting a woman in the back of the head with a baton, knocking her unconscious and cracking her spine.

Read the amended complaint here.

Now, four more people have been named in the suit. One of the new defendants is Christopher Ponte, a "cop watcher" who frequently films protests and has been convicted on gun charges. Mackenzie Lewis is accused of having "battered one individual in an effort to 'demask' the person." Matthew "Deme" Cooper, who has also regularly video taped far-right rallies, allegedly "battered Plaintiff's patrons and attempted to intimidate them."

The sixth defendant is David Willis, who started a splinter far-right group called Patriots United. The lawsuit mentions social media posts by Willis urging his followers to "take the fight to Antifa" and "cleanse the streets."

Cider Riot's lawyers added the new claim of interfering with economic relations, citing online harassment that encouraged negative reviews and "frivolous complaints" to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. (Some specific descriptions of incidents of violence, including a "demasking" and multiple assaults, were also newly detailed in the complaint.)

Asked about the additional allegations in the lawsuit, Gibson denied responsibility. He told WW he had not seen video footage that shows one of his followers was the first to use pepper spray on May 1.

"Their claim about asking people to make negative reviews, it's not accurate," he says.

Gibson did ask people to leave reviews on Cider Riot's Facebook page, which he acknowledges, but he says he did not specify that they should be negative. (He wrote: "Feel free to leave reviews on Cider Riot's FB page.")

"I believe people have a right to know that if you go to Cider Riot, there could be 100 people masked up with weapons," he says.

The right-wing protest leader did acknowledge that some of his followers threw projectiles at the black-clad crowd sitting in Cider Riot's outdoor patio. In his livestream, he told people stop throwing objects, but did nothing else to stop them.

"There were people throwing stuff," he says. "I was not OK with that."

He also admits that he has encouraged people to "demask" antifascists, which is one of the allegations in the suit. "I definitely encouraged people to do that," he says.

He adds he would readily face criminal charges if pulling people's masks off is illegal: "They should charge it," he says. "I talked to Portland Police, they said 'I'm sure they could charge you with harassment or something.' I'm willing to take it."

Portland police have been slow to make arrests for violence at far-right protests and riots. They did not make arrests on May 1 after the clash at Cider Riot, despite a woman being knocked unconscious. Police say they are seeking reports and video footage from victims and witnesses.

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