Whatever happened to Patriot Prayer?

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Joey Gibson's rally in downtown Portland on June 4, 2017. Jake Johnson/PSU Vanguard

“I’m going to tear you to pieces or I’m going to fucking barbecue you and eat you alive.”

That’s the message Tusitala “Tiny” Toese barked at Luke Mahler during a Facebook livestream on Oct. 10. Toese is sidekick to Joey Gibson, founder of the right-wing protest group Patriot Prayer.

Mahler had been ranting to his Facebook friends that Gibson was refusing to pay former PP supporter and co-founder of the American Freedom Motorcycle Association John Beavers money he owed him from May.

Toese joined the stream to defend Gibson, adding, “I’m going to laugh when I beat your ass at the next rally. Anybody that’s watching that wants to come against Joey, well guess what? I’m gonna be up front. You’re gonna have to go through me to get to him.”

Mahler has a long history of dramatic virtual fall-outs with PP members. Toese said all the online badgering from Mahler is “breaking my head.”

The simple online squabble that prompted Mahler’s video rages on.

Beavers says Gibson owes him $450 for a plane ticket and taxi service for a trip to New York in May. Gibson says he never gave Beavers permission to buy him a ticket, and will therefore not pay him back. Beavers posted screenshots of text messages from Gibson where he admits owing the money. Gibson says Beavers steals from people. Beavers mentions small claims court.

The comments range between “stop airing your dirty laundry online” and “pay Beavers back if you’re a man of your word.”

How have the right-wing celebrities that dominated regional and national news coverage all summer been reduced to petty online arguments?

Over the last two months, more former Patriot Prayer supporters have come forward to denounce Gibson. Disgruntled Patriots describe him getting drunk and becoming aggressive. Some say Gibson’s motivational speeches have misled supporters and put them in danger.

The complaints add to an already disorganized picture.

Portland State Vanguard has been following PP’s saga since April, and a bewildering storyline has taken place.

From the far corners of Reddit and secret Facebook groups, neo-Nazis and white supremacists emerged to join Gibson in the media spotlight at a rally on June 4. Under public derision, Gibson eventually denounced his controversial followers in an interview on June 30, but those with alt-right connections and a hunger for conspiracy theories, like Kyle “Based Stickman” Chapman and Allen Puckett, remained at Gibson’s side. Ever-intensifying brawls dominated media coverage.

High-profile allies then told Vanguard in August they felt Gibson was a weak leader. In San Francisco and Berkeley, Calif. on Aug. 26–27, Gibson cancelled events last-minute. Then he took a beating in Berkeley from anti-fascist protesters and emerged victoriously, claiming baiting antifa was his goal all along.

Now Gibson seems to be back to square one.

Motivational YouTube videos, like those he produced before the summer, have come back online. His rallies have dwindled in size. Gibson’s two Facebook feeds are filled with PP merchandise for sale.

As protest energy has died down since the summer, whatever slim media coverage Gibson has received in Portland has not been complimentary.

At Gibson’s most recent Portland rally, a professed supporter of Jeremy Christian and convicted felon brought an illegal firearm onto federal property. At the rally before that, a PP supporter seemingly accelerated his truck toward counter-protesters in the street in Vancouver, Wash.

Meanwhile, white supremacist rallies continue to form across the country, and some attendees, like those in Charlottesville, Va. and Gainesville, Fla. come with the intent to kill.

“The ‘white nationalists’ are in charge now and the Pandora’s Box [Gibson has] opened locally will leave him by the roadside,” said white supremacist expert and former PSU professor Randall Blazak in an email. “He’s their unwitting pawn.”

Gibson the pawn plays others

Patriots haven’t just been mad at Gibson because he owes Beavers money. Gibson’s core group began to split apart in New York this spring.

During a spirited evening after an anti-Sharia law protest on May 25, 2017 in New York City, Gibson, Beavers, Toese, PP supporter Tyler Smith, and AFMA member Justin Harrington joined a loud party hosted by local Proud Boys at The Upstairs Pub, an unassuming bar above a Manhattan deli.

Gibson got very drunk. Harrington said Gibson repeatedly head-butted himself and Beavers in the back. Gibson then chased Smith down the street, reportedly kicked over a park bench and a trashcan, and threw up in front of a McDonald’s.

Gibson said he can’t remember everything from that night but admits his friends had to “babysit” him. “I don’t ever drink at events or anything like that,” Gibson added, “so that was a lesson for me.”

He said he believed Smith had stolen a credit card to buy his plane ticket to New York and had been asking Gibson for money. “When [Smith] refused to leave, I was getting ready to do what I had to do, with [Toese], to get him out of there,” Gibson said.

Smith denied stealing a credit card and claimed Gibson was just trying to challenge him because he was drunk and Smith is a professional mixed martial arts fighter.

For Harrington, Gibson’s carousing added insult to injury.

Earlier that afternoon, Harrington was arrested for throwing a counter-protester to the ground during the anti-Sharia-law march. Gibson caught the incident on camera.

In the video, a scuffle or argument somewhere out of sight interrupts chants of “build that wall.” Gibson shoves supporters aside and races forward yelling, “go go go,” and, “watch out.” Gibson approaches Toese, who yells, “I don’t care who the fuck you are,” at black-clad counter-protesters.

Just in front of Gibson, a masked activist swings at a marcher. Harrington rushes forward and tackles them from the side. New York Police immediately snatch Harrington, but Gibson, Beavers, and AFMA co-founder David Fry defend Harrington on camera, shouting at police that the masked activist had already punched a few other people.

Gibson and Beavers yell at Harrington to stay calm. A moment after the crowd quiets and watches the arrest, seemingly everyone except Gibson chants, “let him go,” and, “self defense.”

Harrington was certain Gibson would defend him to the police. However, though Harrington was released within three hours, Gibson refused to fill out an affidavit for Harrington’s lawyer. Gibson then walked Harrington from the 17th precinct to the party.

“I felt like I got used,” Harrington said. He added that Gibson had encouraged him to be “on the front line” and defend himself. In this encounter, Harrington felt like he had defended his fellow Patriots.

Gibson said he had been ready to stand up for Harrington. However, after reviewing the video, he decided the tackle did not count as self-defense.

Gibson defends a similar situation that happened later in the summer, however.

Toese attacked, with no obvious provocation, a person walking by with a skateboard at an Aug. 6 rally. According to Toese, the victim had been hitting people with their skateboard earlier and was trying to approach Gibson from behind. Gibson said the skateboarder was also later arrested.

Piecing together the truth of what’s said behind the scenes is tricky. Gibson and his supporters have gone through cycles of tight brotherhood and passive-aggressive online shaming for months. Though most interviews for this article were conducted before Beavers made his feud with Gibson public, it is possible disgruntled Patriots want to exploit the media for their own personal vendettas.

Plus, Smith and Harrington don’t have the prettiest pasts.

Smith, a Washington native, is a convicted felon and sex offender. He was arrested three years ago for appearing on The History Channel’s “Doomsday Preppers” special, showing off supposed illegally-owned firearms and claiming he would plunder his neighbors’ belongings in the event of some elusive disaster.

Soon after the NYC trip, Gibson announced on a Facebook livestream he was severing ties with Smith.

Though Harrington claimed he stopped going to rallies after May 25, he actually participated in one last Portland PP march on June 30. He was caught sneaking up on and sucker-punching another anti-fascist marcher.

A few weeks later, Beavers and Fry told Vanguard they stripped Harrington of his patches. Gibson, on the other hand, said he told Harrington he could keep coming to rallies as long as he didn’t start any more fights.

Patriot stories aside, one unlikely ally has been watching PP’s background drama unfold since the beginning.

Activists call out violence in Gibson’s wake

“I’ve said from the start that I would stand with anyone who spoke out against the violence and racism that was being encouraged by these events,” said an anti-fascist activist and college student who calls himself Spencer Backlash.

Backlash has participated in protests as a “blocker,” carrying Maalox and hefty first-aid bags to nurse injured participants in the streets. Backlash said he does not usually mask up during protests, but he does in front of cameras.

When Gibson and his crew aren’t in town, Backlash spends a lot of time criticizing PP and calling out individual Patriots online. This has included Gibson, Toese and Harrington.

After Harrington left PP, Backlash said, “I was still tagging him in my complaints, and since no one else would talk to him, he started talking to me.” Backlash added that Harrington was seen as a “traitor” by far-right activists but understandably was shunned by the anti-fascist side.

After several conversations, Backlash said, “I knew [Harrington] was genuinely remorseful. He then made a public statement that he hated [his violent actions] and that he hated that the behavior was normal in that circle.”

Indeed, Harrington told Vanguard that participating in PP had made him “somebody that I really wasn’t.” He added, “Going to rallies and backing Joey up, I felt I was blinded. Other people were fighting back and getting hurt, and Joey seemed to get excited about it.”

When Beavers left the movement but still shunned Harrington, Backlash talked with them both about what they think is PP’s biggest flaw: its obsession with violence.

Backlash doesn’t just talk to Patriots to build bridges between the left and the right. In order to mutually protect their communities, Backlash wants people like Gibson to stop pushing an “us vs. them” narrative.

“My goal is to protect the community,” said Backlash. “We can disagree. We can never interact again. But Joey and the other far right b-string social media personalities have called for an attack on liberal strongholds. Their followers don’t realize these sanctuary cities aren’t far away places owned by the enemy. They are here and the people standing in counter-protests aren’t just masked anonymous college kids. They’re churches, our neighbors, our families, our friends.”

That “us vs. them” narrative is what critics see as the glue binding Gibson to white supremacists.

In an interview with Gibson last month, investigative journalist Al Letson pointed out that Gibson’s tactic of “baiting antifa” was the same tactic “Unite the Right” organizers used in Charlottesville this summer.

Backlash said self-titled Patriots have the right to their values. “[But] as soon as they realize this is their community too, and acknowledged the violence and racism,” Backlash qualified, “[and if] they start speaking out against it and start defending their neighbors, I’m going to do my best to encourage that and make sure it continues.”

Gibson, as always, insisted he discourages violence. He said his newest tactic is to keep rallies as small as possible to filter out those “looking for a fight.” He added that any kind of fighting doesn’t make his group look good, no matter who “throws the first punch.”

However, anger still bubbles in PP’s blood.

Twenty-one-year-old Toese said he has a “very violent” past. Following Gibson has helped change that, he said, but incessant badgering from people like Mahler or physical provocation incites his rage again.

“It’s not healthy for me and it’s not healthy for the movement,” Toese added.

Toese said his threat on Mahler’s video was aimed at AFMA members. Contrary to Gibson’s given reason for keeping his rallies small, Toese lamented on a Facebook livestream on Oct. 15 before a 20-person flag rally in Salem, Ore. that the rally was so small because AFMA was threatening PP supporters if they went.

Toese could not provide evidence of these threats. AFMA had planned to attend the Salem flag rally to confront Gibson about the money he owes Beavers, but Beavers denies that any physical threats were made against PP supporters.

Now, once again, PP’s tactics have shifted. Earlier this month, Gibson announced PP will be planning more rallies to protest specific politicians. Backlash thinks Gibson might be re-focusing on “problems with the establishment.”

Time will tell whether Gibson sticks with this plan. For now, Blazak thinks PP’s thunder is gone.

“[Joey Gibson]’s been trolled, and I think he’s probably confused at what comes next,” Blazak said. “It’s clear the alt-right movement is evolving past Gibson and he’s served his purpose.”

12 COMMENTS

  1. Here’s the deal people, AFMA is NOT a violent Association, we promote the Preservation or this Great Nation’s Constitution, Bill of Rights, & Amendments, Freedom of Speech for all and believe that ALL LIVES MATTER! We are NOT Racist, we are NOT White Supremacists, and we’re NOT into violence,,, at least until some MENTALLY STUNTED SNOWFLAKES decide they wanna come up against us, at that point we ARE Brothers, and we Will close up ranks and stand side by side, and toe to toe with anyone who wants to step up and ATTACK us! That being said, me personally, I don’t give a flying Royal Rats Ass WHO you are, I don’t back down, I am NOT a Felon, I do still retain ALL my “RIGHTS”. Threats are nothing more than CHILDS PLAY to me. All mouth, bantering from Keyboard / Web-Cam Warriors that no longer have ANY power to do ANY kind of damage. Time to wake up, put on the Adult Pants, and realize, you’re NOTHING to much of anyone except those who wish to continue to cause descention in our Nation. So all this being said,,, STEP UP or STEP OFF & STFU!!!

  2. “mentally stunted snowflakes”, huh?

    Guess what, old man? You aging, hang-gut chuckleheads got shut down, face to face for months. Now your pathetic movement is dead. You guys fight with each other because you need to blame someone for the failure of your stupid, intelligence-bereft movement, as you always do. This always happens to protofascist movements.

    You were here to pick fights because right wing extremists are violent. Right wing extremists are violent because they know the culture that gives them a leg up is going away (and it IS going away).

    You can complain that you’re being misrepresented all you want, but the fact remains, that you guys cheered at your rallies as your speakers said they were coming to “sack liberal cities” and “crack commie skulls” because you want to do violence to people that don’t agree with your Nazi-loving garbage.

    You got your deserved end on the local stage. You’ll get more of it if you pop back up.

    Have fun with that “Ol’ bear”.

    • You are either fooled or lying. Every speech at every rally we have held has been recorded. Show me ONE time someone called for people to “sack liberal cities” or “crack commie skulls” or supported hate towards any group, or called for violence towards anyone. And then show me the people cheering. You won’t find one, let alone the other. Have you even done any research at all, before forming such an extreme opinion? The evidence says no, all you have done is read media reports like this. News flash, a large number of our newest members are liberals who chose to find out for themselves, and so they listened, liked what they heard, and now support us. Will you be wise enough to do the same? Can you think for yourself? Or is your mind so set that no amount of evidence to the contrary will change it?

  3. I can think for myself. I watch how people were being used in this movement for other own gain . I do not agree with antifa at all, allot of antifa kids are being made to do these things against there will. on that note Joey want to act like he is a leader, someone of inportants, well I can tell you this all who believe in a man that can not hold to his word well then that speaks highly of them and of him .My issuee is with Joey is with him not all his minions, now if all his chear leaders want to join on his ban wagon ok .Now getting back to the story here , people stop following Joey because they see what he is about about useing people getting people hurt.But myself I do not care about what people think of me and if I’m liked or accepted. In closing I’m going to leave it to this why don’t you help your own communities instead of going to other places and tearing down other communities, we had American Freedom Motorcycle Association have been feeding the homeless every Saturday and we don’t have one issue we have even feed antifa members that are just People. We see people for who they are not for a video we can get to make herself look better just start participating in your own Communities . The movement as they say or call it is dying down but believe that when the time and people have to stand up those people will stand up for Just Cause. And all the people that wanted to be famous for views and likes and whatever they will be left at the curbside.

  4. A very well written and accurate article. I have studied the PP events, and researched extensively this group of indivduals. My observations and opinions are objective as i am not affiliated with this or any group.
    Patriot Prayer has evolved and in just over a year I consider them a “young” group of fairly like minded individuals who have made mistakes along the way no doubt ( as many are quick to point out). Honest or calculated mistakes it is not my place to say.
    My personal opinion.
    They are not at all social justice warriors, they are committed Trump supporters. They are often criticized for lack of community support or activities to help fellow kind. Joey Gibson has floundered with no concise message for months, perhaps defining and redefining as time went along. The pure political platform that I believe is the real agenda is simply not palatable in the Pacific northwest. So, in an effort to increase his numbers, and exposure he has used many other methods to gain recognition and support.
    Recently, the group “seem” to welcome and embrace other political views. Validity of that remains to be seen. I believe the whole point is to reach a large number of “supporters” period. Thus far, the means of influence clearly can be evidenced in this article. There have been numerous incidents well documented. As for media, videos and such it is only fair to point out that all early PP media or videos (until recently) were not posted or on line until they were edited, in some cases 2-3 days later. However, there were many live streams that differ significantly from the PP posted versions. I suppose good publicity is honorable, unless there is something to hide.
    Having personal protection for Joey Gibson appears to have always been an important consideration, over time he did lose his front line. The cancelled Berkley rally …. Joey, in a rare moment off guard with the press did admit to this having been a factor. The event did in fact turn into a positive for PP.
    My personal opinion, the early months of rallies and marches were a threat to the community in many ways. They used and still do use the guise of free speech to influence others (Thus prohibiting free speech and freedom). Secondly, although very charismatic Joey lacks integrity and humility to be a trusted individual. I do wish all the best and given the benefit of the doubt I hope he finally is open and honest with those who support him. There is no honor in manipulation for political gain.

    • You bring up an interesting phenomenon. We stand for free speech for everybody, including those with whom we disagree. When most of the opposition also disagrees with that voice, it is a bad thing, and we get called sympathizers and supporters, and worse. Yet, when those we disagree with ARE the opposition, and we support their right to speak, then it all of a sudden is a virtue.
      One more, in a long list of double standards we deal with on the daily.

  5. Would love to hear more about ANTIFAs inside drama and shortcomings but this is obviously a snowflake University blog with Antifa authors! Ironic since many SCREAM for diversity!

  6. As someone who has been part of Patriot Prayer since almost its beginning, I have been front and center to watch this group grow and evolve. Yes, we have made changes, and yes, we have had learning experiences. There is no universal handbook for what we are doing. But violence has NEVER been advocated for, and never been hoped for. Our last couple of events have been quite peaceful, and we loved it! Antifa left us alone, and it was a great day. Antifa are not toddlers, we are not responsible for their actions. When they choose to use “any means necessary” to silence opinions they dislike, THAT is the fascism, and THAT is what we oppose. Every single American has the right to their voice, and to express themselves without fear of violence. When antifa understands that, the violence will end, because it s them causing it.
    As for people who have left the movement, there is a WHOLE lot more to the story that nobody is telling, and each story is different. Some were removed and now claim they left too (one of them is quoted in this article, only they got his first name wrong) That individual was too often caught sucker punching people, and was constantly causing drama, and he got removed from planning or being too involved in anything. He got bent about that, so now he wants to get pay back. He is not a stable individual, and we are hoping he gets some real help.
    So you see, there is a lot more to this story, and this reporter got sucked into a personal fight, in an attempt for one side to smear the other. I care deeply about all parties involved, John and Joey alike, and I see mistakes both have made. We are all humans and mistakes are going to happen. So why this is news worthy is beyond me. There is an awful lot of real news to talk about, sn’t there? This is petty personal nonsense. And Patriot Prayer is bigger now than it has been ever. We just operate differently.

  7. This article is littered with false accusations and typical MSM type skewed partial story telling. Tell the entire story as it happened not just selected parts that you then spin to your own narrative. Fact is Luke Mahler is an unstable creature, who thrives on stirring up drama and stalking people. He likely gave you the idea for this story because my bro Tiny blocked him as did I and many other smart patriots who don’t like Luke Mahler aka River Massey aka Luke Mueller, aka many other aliases. He just brings too much drama and sparks infighting. Which thanks to this fake news story, he thinks he achieved his goal. We all tried to help Luke, Tiny even went live with him trying to be nice and talk to Luke about finding his purpose in life. But like typical MSM you won’t show the GOOD things Tiny does. You make me sick.

  8. i am AFMA president and founder . joey and tiny are liers and they lied about us coming to there flag rally and beating people up . so you all believe what you want i know the truth . it was between joey and beavers . tiny had to get involded because he is one of joeys minions . its simple . pay the debt owed . BE A MAN OF YOUR WORD . AND GO DO SOMETHING IN YOUR OWN COMMUNITY. theres no need for any of you to respond to my remarks . I JUST DONT GIVE A FUCK . i will always speak the sober truth . DAVID FRY AFMA NATIONAL PRESIDENT

  9. More drama more drama more drama. It never seems to end. Patriot Prayer is a ship sinking. Ive made mistakes and dealt with it like a man. I will always stand with AFMA. Patriot Prayer put us all in a bad position. We are the older ones that realized it was no good. Maybe others that support Patriot Player just want to be part of something and fit in. Went you have patriots that are dishonest like Joey and Tiny, its a big disaster for the people. Thank what you will and keep puting others down., thats what Patriot Player does. AFMA are true honest patriots that love people, that helps people and are pretty honest. I bet patriot player hates that. Lol AFMA for life.

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