Patriot Prayer is the creation of conservative activist and former Washington Senate candidate Joey Gibson, who has led protests in Portland and other cities since 2016.
The man who was fatally shot in Portland as supporters of President Trump skirmished with Black Lives Matter protesters was a supporter of right-wing Patriot Prayer, which doesn’t have a big national footprint but is well known in the Pacific Northwest.
‘I AM NOT SAD THAT A F***ING FASCIST DIED TONIGHT’ OVERHEARD AT ANTIFA GATHERING IN PORTLAND AFTER PATRIOT PRAYER BACKER WAS SHOT TO DEATH
The shooting victim was identified by Gibson as Aaron “Jay” Danielson of Portland. Photos taken of the body show he was wearing a Patriot Prayer hat.
“We love Jay and he had such a huge heart,” Gibson wrote on Facebook on Sunday. “God bless him and the life he lived.”
Danielson also went by the name Jay Bishop, according to a statement on Patriot Prayer’s Facebook page.
In past interviews with the Associated Press, Gibson has said he and his group are not a hate group and simply want to exercise their freedom of speech without interference from left-wing groups or protesters.
The group became a prominent presence in Portland in the summer of 2017, when Gibson organized a large rally in the city less than a week after a White supremacist fatally stabbed two men who had come to the defense of two Black teenagers – including one wearing a Muslim head-covering – on a light-rail train.
The defendant, Jeremy Christian, who was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences earlier this year, had attended a Patriot Prayer rally several months before, but was kicked out by organizers for flashing Nazi hand signs.
Patriot Prayer held several other marches and rallies in Portland in 2017 and 2018 and Gibson was arrested for felony rioting last summer on a charge related to a brawl that broke out between the group’s supporters and left-wing activists at a pub after a May Day march in the city.
He has pleaded not guilty; a judge this week denied his motion for a change of venue at trial, according to court records.
“Joey Gibson is an advocate for freedom and believes it is imperative for followers of Christ to take the church into the streets, city councils, Capitol buildings, courthouses or anywhere we see injustices running unopposed, including Hong Kong, China,” his website says. “Gibson believes that remaining silent is consent, and lives by the motto ‘Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God.'”
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Gibson told the AP he was present late Saturday in Portland when a caravan of about 600 Trump supporters drove through the city, sparking clashes in the streets with Black Lives Matter demonstrators.
Gibson did not appear to have a part in organizing the caravan, however.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.