It’s been a hell of a week for Patriot Prayer’s Joey Gibson. First, he gets sued for a million dollars and then his “big” anti-choice rally in Albany, NY is a bust.
The “Pro-Life rally for the innocent in NY” as it was promoted on Patriot Prayer’s facebook page was organized to protest the expansion of reproductive rights in New York State under the Reproductive Health Act. The act would rewrite some of the 49 year old laws on the books that define abortion in the state and bring them into compliance with federal laws.
Many of the anti-choice conservatives in the country, including President Trump have been trying to spread misinformation about the RHA, to either fundraise or to rile up their base. Joey Gibson is no different.
Gibson is a ‘free speech provocateur’ who leads the oft-violent group Patriot Prayer. Discussing Joey with NationofChange, David Neiwert, author of Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump described him essentially as a grifter.
Joey is every bit as devoted to the cause of preventing abortion as he has previously been to the various causes of free speech, of stopping illegal immigration, of attacking programs for Muslim refugees, of protesting sanctuary cities and more generically, socialism — which is to say, he cares about it almost entirely as a means for fund-raising, scamming his donors, and creating street brawls.
Gibson’s group, Patriot Prayer is considerably more prevalent on the West Coast, especially in Portland so this rally is actually my first interaction with them, so I’ll let the Southern Poverty Law Center describe them.
Patriot Prayer is an anti-government “Patriot” group based originally in Vancouver, Washington, and now in Portland, Oregon, that has organized a series of protests in the Pacific Northwest that have all been held in places that are established centers of liberal/left politics, all with the clear intent of attempting to provoke a violent response from far-left antifascists.
And provoke they do. Just search ‘antifa and Patriot Prayer Portland’ on YouTube and you’ll find dozens of videos of their clashes. Recently, there was a brawl at a bar called Cider House Riot in Portland that ended with multiple injuries and destruction of property – enough that the owner of the bar has dropped a lawsuit on Gibson for one million dollars. Willamette Week reported “Gibson then facilitated and refereed a street fight between two persons outside of Cider Riot,” the lawsuit alleges. “He dictated the rules, and kept others from intervening while live streaming to his followers…”
Though it’s this past weekend that may be his more depressing event – his “pro-life rally for the innocent.” According to the facebook page “THERE WILL BE SPEECHES, MUSIC, PRAYER, AND OPPORTUNITIES TO VOLUNTEER. Book your ticket and come help us protect the innocent.” Their rag tag group of barely just under 30 convened on West Capitol Park in Albany, NY about 30mins past their scheduled time of 1pm. There were about 10 officers around the immediate area guarding the metal gated park and horses were at the ready if a riot were to break out. Legally a riot could have broken out as it only requires three or more people – but the likelihood was very low as only a single counter-protester showed up – and he was quietly observing the ‘rally’ in the shade about 20 yards away with no signs. NationofChange had an exclusive on the story, as we were the only media to actually bother to show up.
The rally as it was, consisted of several Proud Boys (another pugnacious white nationalist adjacent group, who has Alex Jones as a member) some wearing full clown costumes and carrying balloons for a reason that they never quite fully explained, a handful of local anti-abortion activists that seemed somewhat taken aback at the attendees, Haley Adams (a Portland activist) and Joey Gibson of Patriot Prayer. There was also a preacher with a bible and a camouflage Donald Trump hat in a blue suit who dramatically genuflected during their rally ending prayer.
After the rally they made their way to a local Planned Parenthood clinic – which was unsurprisingly closed on a Saturday afternoon. They lost most of the locals and the older woman with a walker, so their prayer vigil at the clinic included, Joey, Haley and four or five Proud Boys, several of which were still dressed as clowns. The preacher dramatically read from the bible towards the vacant building with a young embarrassed security guard standing by the doors. Later the guard would ask Gibson to have the preacher move out of the parking lot… once he was done with his readings. They complied, though arguing the parking lot was ‘public property.’ The guard didn’t argue as he seemed to sense the pointlessness of the whole situation.
Joey Gibson, the leader of Patriot Prayer, laid down just outside of the parking lot with his face down in the grass immobile. He had just flown across the nation at great expense, with a million dollar lawsuit pending and this is what he had to show for it.