Truthout - June 25, 2019
"TheProud Boys, a far-right gang started byViceco-founder Gavin McInnis, provided Patriot Prayer’s muscle and were known for brutal street attacks against leftists and anyone they deemed a threat. They quickly took on the role that neo-Nazi groups like Volksfront and the Hammerskins once did as reactionary street enforcers. The Proud Boys have taken major legal hits recently, includingGavin McInnis quitting,leadershipmalfunctions, and close to a dozen members being arrested forassaults in front of a New York City Republican eventlast year."
While far-right activist Joey Gibson promised that his group Patriot Prayer was going to take back Longview, Washington, on June 9, less than two dozen people arrived for his “blue line” march in memory of Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Deputy Justin DeRosier who was shot and killed on a call on April 13. Gibson has been known for exploiting regional stories like these as an avenue to gain publicity and insert his organization’s relevance into a community, and he has never shied away from jumping on these incidents when a community is still in mourning. In a mostly silent two-mile hike, they waved American and “blue line” flags as cars drove by and largely ignored their presence.
While Gibson has presented himself as simply an engaged conservative, anti-fascist organizers have said since the beginning that Patriot Prayer has been a mainstreaming tool for white nationalists and has become known for violent harassment.
Yet Gibson’s political roadshow, meant to draw out “patriots” in liberal cities around the country, progressively lost steam this spring. While he was once able to draw out hundreds (which were still overwhelmed by thousands of counter-protesters), Patriot Prayer’s attraction has waned after dozens of public fights, the arrest of prominent members, and the increasingly violent attacks on the left and members of the community.
Patriot Prayer’s marked decline was not an accident, or the result of simple ineptitude. It comes after more than two years of coordinated organizing by anti-fascist organizations across Oregon and Washington.
Founded by Gibson in 2016, Patriot Prayer brought together a grab bag of right-wing activists to hold public rallies centered on fundamentalist Christianity, anti-immigrant rhetoric, and social conservativism, and attracted open neo-Nazis and white nationalists. Patriot Prayer has been described by political analyst Spencer Sunshine as an example of ‘Independent Trumpism,’ far-right grassroots activism inspired by Donald Trump’s nativistic bravado.
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