Facebook took down the accounts of the conservative Patriot Prayer group as well as Joey Gibson, the group’s leader, and several supporters.
“They were removed as part of our ongoing efforts to remove Violent Social Militias from our platform,” Sally Aldous, a Facebook spokesperson, told The Epoch Times via email.
Meanwhile, in a statement on Parler, Gibson said: “Antifa groups murdered my friend while he was walking home, and instead of the multibillion dollar company [Facebook] banning Portland antifa pages they ban Patriot Prayer, Joey Gibson, and several other grandmas that are admins.” An alternative to Twitter, Parler is a social networking platform that has a significant user base of Trump supporters and conservatives.
Antifa member Michael Reinoehl was identified as a suspect in the Aug. 29 killing of Patriot Prayer supporter Aaron Danielson before being fatally shot by law enforcement officers who sought to apprehend him last week.
Facebook’s decision showed a “very serious demonstration of the unchecked power of electronic oligarchs to control information,” Gibson’s lawyer, Angus Lee, told The Oregonian.
“Obviously, Mr. Gibson is very upset right now and feels as though there is an effort to silence him,” Lee added.
Aldous pointed to Facebook removing groups, pages, and ads related to Antifa as part of a mass action taken last month.
At the time, the company said it was taking action against “accounts tied to offline anarchist groups that support violent acts amidst protests, US-based militia organizations, and QAnon,” a movement that advances a number of claims, including that members of the world’s social, economic, and political elites have engaged in child sex trafficking, abuse, and cannibalism.
Some of the accounts “may identify as Antifa,” the company stated.
Gibson and others linked to Patriot Prayer took part in a pro-President Donald Trump rally on the day Danielson was shot dead. According to police officials, the event had concluded before the shooting.
Danielson was a resident of Portland, Oregon, Gibson said last week, explaining why he was still in the city when he was shot.
Gibson denounced smears of his friend, saying people calling him a racist or other negative terms didn’t know him.
“The only thing that they can never do to Jay is call him a racist because he lived an amazing life. So they can’t talk about specific examples of who he was and what he did, quotes of him saying hateful things because there is nothing. They can’t show him being violent because he wasn’t violent. They can’t show anything on him, except just claim that he’s some sort of white supremacist,” Gibson said.
Patriot Prayer has engaged in violent clashes with Antifa and other groups in the past, primarily in Portland.
Gibson was one of six people charged with inciting a riot on May 1, 2019, between his group and Antifa. Video footage showed him pushing a woman who was with Antifa, police said in an affidavit (pdf). He has pleaded not guilty.
Two men entered pleas and were sentenced.
Christopher Ryan Ponte, 38, pleaded no contest to felony riot and was sentenced to 10 days in jail, three years of probation, and banned from protests.
Ponte, who police said was associated with Patriot Prayer, started a group called Oregon Cop Block that seeks to film police officers while they do their jobs.
Later in 2019, Ponte was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm, according to court records.
Matthew Demetrius Cooper, 24, another man linked to Patriot Prayer, pleaded guilty to felony riot and was given three years probation and banned from protests.
During the mayhem, a Patriot Prayer member, Ian Kramer, knocked an Antifa-linked woman unconscious, according to an affidavit.
Gibson’s lawyer previously accused the Mulntomah District Attorney’s Office of selective prosecution because the office didn’t dismiss the riot charge following its announcement last month that prosecutors would presumptively decline to pursue charges against people arrested for certain crimes during protests.
“We got the policy that day and said, ‘Whoa, if he can do this for them, he’s got to do this for everybody,'” attorney James Buchal told The Oregonian.
Brad Kaulbaugh, a deputy district attorney, responded by saying the new policy is not retroactive.
Gibson said during an appearance on “Fox News @ Night” last week that he stopped organizing events in Portland “because there are so many people showing up who are hateful, causing problems.”
Asked what Patriot Prayer’s mission is, he said: “The last few years, what we’ve been doing is going around in areas outside of Portland, trying to help people who are victims to government overreach, like CPS and the lockdowns, Second Amendment.”
Tom Ozimek contributed to the report.