Patriot Prayer founder Joey Gibson has filed a tort claim against Battle Ground Mayor Mike Dalesandro, arguing that his speech is being restricted in online circles concerning the city.
Gibson filed the tort claim against Dalesandro on Monday saying the mayor blocked him on Facebook so he “could no longer comment on announcements made by Mayor Mike Dalesandro.” The claim, filed with the city of Battle Ground, is typically an indication of an intent to sue. Gibson is seeking $100,000 in damages.
Dalesandro said Monday he had just learned of the tort claim and declined to comment.
Gibson started bringing his group of supporters to Battle Ground in March, when he held weekly rallies in the city to protest Initiative 1639, a gun control initiative passed statewide last year. As part of his anti-I-1639 campaign, Gibson and supporters also appeared at local council meetings urging councilors to pass ordinances declaring themselves sanctuary cities from the initiative.
Gibson and Dalesandro first traded some public barbs after Gibson appeared at a Battle Ground council meeting and things got heated. At the time, Dalesandro said Gibson had an outburst, and Gibson acknowledged that he had reacted too emotionally.
Battle Ground councilors didn’t vote for a sanctuary city ordinance. Shauna Walters and Josh VanGelder, both of Battle Ground, were some of the local residents who worked on the sanctuary city campaign. They both announced bids to run for city council seats. Gibson threw his support behind them, attending a campaign rally for both prior to the primary election.
Walters also led an effort in Yacolt to get the town council there to pass a resolution declaring the town a sanctuary from I-1639.
The campaign trail has been a confrontational one in Battle Ground, although not necessarily for those facing off. Walters is running for Pos. 3 on the council against Neil Butler. However, Walters has faced harsher criticism from Battle Ground Councilor Philip Johnson, who is running for re-election for Pos. 7 against VanGelder. In July, Johnson filed a complaint with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission against Walters. The PDC dismissed the complaint in September.
According to Gibson’s tort claim, Dalesandro blocked Gibson on social media as a way to influence the council elections.
While Dalesandro isn’t up for re-election today, he has been dragged into the tense discussions online surrounding the elections and future of the city. At times, he has issued messages decrying outsiders coming into Battle Ground. Conversely, a picture he posted online after meeting Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at the State of the Union has been repeatedly used to paint Dalesandro as a socialist.