PORTLAND (AP) — Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson and supporter Russell Schultz, who both face riot charges in Multnomah County, have filed a federal lawsuit against the county’s district attorney, alleging selective prosecution based on political beliefs.
The suit filed Friday accuses Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt of engaging in unfair prosecution by refusing to dismiss a sole felony riot allegation against them.
The claim comes after Schmidt’s new office policy saying he won’t pursue that charge against people involved in recent Portland protests without an accompanying allegation of specific property damage or use of force, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.
On May Day 2019, Gibson, who resides in Vancouver, and Schultz are among six men accused of inciting a riot between right-wing Patriot Prayer and left-leaning antifa outside a Portland pub. Gibson and Schultz have pleaded not guilty and their trials are set for October.
Their lawyers, James Buchal, chair of Multnomah County’s Republican Party, and D. Angus Lee want a judge to issue a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction to halt their state prosecution.
The district attorney’s office told Gibson’s lawyers last month when asked that the new policy is not retroactive.
The lawsuit filed by Gibson and Schultz also references an interview Schmidt did with his former Vassar College classmate, a social justice activist and hip hop artist who goes by the name “AWKWORD,” before Schmidt started as district attorney in August. The suit points to the interview as an indication that Schmidt has a predisposition against Gibson and his followers.
Schmidt, through office spokesman Brent Weisberg, has declined comment on Gibson’s case, noting it’s a matter pending before the court. Weisberg also Friday declined comment on the federal lawsuit.