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News / Northwest

Patriot Prayer threat prompts probe

Muslim advocacy group threatened on Facebook page

By Shane Dixon Kavanaugh, The Oregonian
Published: November 5, 2018, 10:13pm

PORTLAND — A threat made against a Muslim advocacy organization on the Facebook page for Patriot Prayer, a right-wing group based in Vancouver, has prompted an investigation by Portland police, the bureau said.

The Oregon chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations alerted authorities after the online comment surfaced Saturday.

“Can’t we just go burn down all the offices CAIR has?” wrote user Sean Fries in a post that has since been deleted.

The remark came just a day after an online fundraising company announced it severed ties with Patriot Prayer in response to pressure from social justice organizations, including CAIR-Oregon.

Demonstrations held by Patriot Prayer in Portland and other cities have been criticized for attracting white nationalists and others who promote racist or bigoted views. A number of the group’s events have erupted into violent clashes between supporters and counter-protesters.

Patriot Prayer’s Facebook page has 18,000 followers, many of whom live outside the Pacific Northwest. Fries appears to live in California and did not respond to a message on Facebook seeking comment.

“Given all the recent hate attacks and threats targeting minority communities nationwide, it is incumbent on local, state and federal law enforcement authorities to investigate this apparent call to violence against a civil rights organization,” CAIR-Oregon spokesman Zakir Khan said in a statement.

While the Muslim advocacy group doesn’t have offices in Portland, the city’s police bureau said it was still looking into the statements.

“All threats of violence need to be reported to law enforcement and will be thoroughly investigated,” said Sgt. Chris Burley, a Portland police spokesman.

Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson called the threats left on his group’s Facebook page “stupid,” “annoying” and “unfortunate.”