PORTLAND — Six men have been indicted on riot charges stemming from a May 1 brawl outside a Portland cidery in May, where people threw blocks and sprayed chemicals and one woman was knocked unconscious.
Matthew Cooper, 24; Joey Gibson, 35; Ian Kramer, 45; Mackenzie Lewis, 29; Christopher Ponte, 37, and Russell Schultz, 50, were each indicted on a single count of riot. Ponte is also accused of recklessly endangering another person.
All of the men except Schultz are defendants in a $1 million lawsuit filed by Abram Goldman-Armstrong, owner of the Portland bar Cider Riot. On May 1, after a day of protests, members of right-wing groups, including Patriot Prayer and the Proud Boys, and left-wing groups fought outside Cider Riot, deploying bear spray at each other, throwing projectiles and fighting in the street. One woman was knocked unconscious, allegedly hit in the head with a baton.
Goldman-Armstrong sued several people, including five of the six men, alleging that the group of right-wing activists had come to Cider Riot, initiated a fight and injured at least one person.
According to the state, a fight can be called a riot if five or more people engage in “tumultuous and violent conduct and thereby intentionally or recklessly create[s] a grave risk of causing public alarm.”
The six men were all arrested within a week of each other in early August — days before hundreds of right-wing activists from around the country, and nearly a thousand left-wing activists, met in Portland for dueling protests. Gibson turned himself in on Friday, posted bail, and attended the protest the next day.
Police and the district attorney’s office have refused to say what specific actions led to the arrests of the men. The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office requested the arrest warrants and affidavits for those cases to be sealed, citing ongoing investigation by police. Judge Stephen Bushong granted the request.
But after the men have been indicted, the district attorney’s office said the documents would remain sealed, and it did not said when they would be available to the public.
Kramer and Cooper were arrested on charges related to the assault of the woman at Cider Riot who was knocked unconscious.
Gibson, the founder and leader of the right-wing group Patriot Prayer, denies any violence on his part. On Monday, he appeared in court briefly and told reporters he would take the case to trial.
“I’m not going to plead guilty to one thing,” Gibson said. “Not one thing. ‘Cause I didn’t break the law.”
Gibson said he showed up at Cider Riot knowing antifa members had gathered there and began live streaming the scene, showing masked people sitting on the bar’s patio.
“As part of my goal to show the violent and ugly nature of the Antifa members present, in response to their demands that I leave the area, I dared them to do something,” Gibson wrote in court papers. He said that it would be “fair to call my conduct confrontational, and certainly annoying to members of Antifa.” But he maintains that he stood on the sidewalk and was pushed, spat on and pepper sprayed but did not fight.
Gibson’s next court appearance is scheduled for Tuesday. Lewis and Ponte are scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday. Cooper’s arraignment is scheduled for Aug. 30. Kramer was arraigned Wednesday and pleaded not guilty. Schultz’s arraignment has not yet been scheduled.
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