Joey Gibson at the heart of a Portland protest. A common sight.
Joey Gibson at the heart of a Portland protest. A common sight. KAREN DUCEY/ GETTY

Patriot Prayer took a field trip to Seattle this weekend. The group, led by failed-Senate hopeful Joey Gibson, claim to be a conservative free speech group, but that free speech tends to incite violence wherever Patriot Prayer goes. Usually, that's in Portland, or Vancouver, Washington, Gibson's home turf.

This weekend, however, members of Patriot Prayer packed up their megaphones and their American flags and took I-5 north to the Emerald City. There, Gibson & Co. sought to ruffle the feathers of anyone at the University of Washington, Planned Parenthood, and a Capitol Hill bar.

The first stop? An anti-gun safety rally at the University of Washington. Gibson and the UW College Republicans teamed up on Friday to "protest and educate" the students of UW about the horror of Initiative 1639.

The initiative seeks to raise the purchasing age for semiautomatic weapons, mandate safe storage, and increase background checks. It's the only gun safety initiative on ballots nationwide. Conservatives are trying to kill it. Except Patriot Prayer and UWCR didn't help their cause much.

Attendance at the rally wasn't big. There also wasn't a big discussion on I-1639, the purpose of Patriot Prayer's presence. That's because Patriot Prayer, contrary to its message, doesn't really care about these free speech discussions or "spirituality."

Earlier this year, five people were arrested at a different Patriot Prayer rally at UW. Despite a list of "free speech" speakers, most of the crowd Gibson attracted only cared about hurling insults, and sometimes fists, at counter protesters. A couple of months after that, Gibson and some of his cronies were detained by UW Police because they were carrying guns on campus as a display of gun rights.

According to The Daily, someone at this past weekend's 1639 rally "asked Gibson if he was carrying a concealed weapon, which Gibson answered with 'Maybe I am, maybe I’m not,' and shrugged his shoulders, causing apprehension in the crowd."

In a UWCR livestream of the rally, Chevy Swanson, UWCR president, mused that there wasn't a big turn out for the event, that it seemed leftist protesters were "dwindling off this."

"I still think it’s a big success," Swanson said in the livestream. "We're doing something for political discourse."

That night, after the so-called anti I-1639 rally, Gibson & Co. went out on the town in Capitol Hill. Nearing midnight on Friday, Gibson was refused entry to Nacho Borracho on Broadway.


"We have a right as an American business to refuse business," the bouncer told an irate Gibson.

“Is it ‘cause I’m Muslim?” Gibson, who is not Muslim, asked the bouncer.

The bouncer shook his head. “No it’s not.”

“Yeah it is,” said Gibson, mocking. "You're not going to let me come in here because I'm Muslim?"

"No, it's because you're part of a hate group," the bouncer replied, citing Patriot Prayer.

The interaction continued for 15 minutes. Gibson shoved past the bouncer and went inside Nacho Borracho, telling the bouncer to call the police. The bouncer did. Then, Haley Adams, a member of Patriot Prayer who goes by "Rebel Barbie" on Facebook, called the police herself because this was apparently discrimination.

Police showed up and turned Gibson away. Two police reports were filed about the incident but no arrests were made.

Patriot Prayer and Gibson did not respond to The Stranger's request for contact.

Patriot Prayer had plenty to say on Facebook, however, because all of this bullshit always goes down on Facebook.

"How is this any different then the civil rights movement where blacks refused to follow the directions of the hateful ignorant white people who claimed black people cant eat at dinners?" Gibson asked in Facebook comment.

Last week, our sister paper The Portland Mercury wrote this about Gibson:

"Gibson has perfected a brand of eyebrow-furrowed sincerity that, when paired with his oft-mentioned spirituality, can seem genuine... Most of us, however, are far more familiar with the genuine fear and violence that Gibson regularly leaves in his wake."

I've covered Gibson and Patriot Prayer before. I've been on the UW campus when they thought their freedom of speech was "being attacked." They couldn't give less of a shit about the people using that space to speak about their ideas. Instead, the majority stood along the barriers separating both sides, taunting and yelling at the counter protesters. From what I have seen first hand and what this video demonstrates, Gibson is the very definition of a rabble-rouser. He stirs the pot for the sake of stirring the pot. The chaos and cacophony of protest that follows is nonsensical and useless. He stands for nothing except inciting anger and drawing out the opposition.

He seeks to make himself a martyr for the right. His brain works as such: "I was refused entry to a Seattle bar! That demonstrates liberal hypocrisy! That means that cake maker should be able to refuse any person a cake!"

Gibson, whatever and wherever he preaches, brings hate along for the ride. White supremacists, Proud Boys, neo Nazis, and others flock to Patriot Prayer rallies. No matter how many times Gibson disavows them, they somehow always feel welcome. It could be Gibson, it could be his rhetoric, but Patriot Prayer and hate are intrinsically married.

There was nothing gained from that faux gun rights rally at UW on Friday, Gibson's instigating at a bar on Friday night, or the "peaceful" rally he held at a Capitol Hill Planned Parenthood on Saturday. It's exhausting and it won't end, especially if you don't vote.