PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Joey Gibson, the founder of the Patriot Prayer and the man who’s led pro-Trump rallies in Portland, wants moderate Democrats to join his next rally.
The Portland Freedom March is planned for Sept. 10, and while Gibson welcomes moderate Democrats, he told KOIN 6 News he does not want white supremacists or neo-Nazis to attend.
Gibson has faced criticism for attracting white nationalists to his rallies. While he said he can’t stop them from coming, he can discourage them beforehand.
Most recently, Gibson led a pro-Trump rally, which promoted conservative values, at the Salmon Springs Fountain toward the end of June. The rally turned violent after the Antifa and counter protesters surrounded the group.
However, his earlier June rally at Terry Schrunk Plaza remained largely peaceful.
He said the far left and the far right won’t listen to each other, so he hopes having moderates attend may help bring people of all sides together.
“The extremists, on both sides, are tearing us apart,” Gibson said.
In the past, Gibson has been associated with white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the alt-right because they’ve attended his rallies.
“I’m brown, so I’m definitely not a white supremacist, definitely not a white nationalist, definitely not a Nazi because I want limited government, Hitler was all about big government,” Gibson said.
According to Gibson, he’s rallying to promote the protection of freedom of speech on all sides.
“Yes, my message does not appeal to a lot of conservatives,” Gibson said. “In fact, a lot of them hate it. I believe there’s good Communists, good Antifa members, so I’m not trying to mobilize the right. I really am trying to reach out to the moderates.”
After an alleged white supremacist drove into a crowd of counter protesters in Charlottesville, Gibson said he was upset.
“I hope to God that Charlottesville will wake up a lot of people who are so frustrated, so angry,” Gibson said.
Gibson said he will try to bring in moderates, independents and “the ones who go back and forth” for his September rally.
In light of what happened in Charlottesville, he hopes there will be no violence and people will have the opportunity to vent their frustrations peacefully.
Who is Joey Gibson?
Gibson never thought he’d be leading rallies.
He said for more than 10 years, he worked as a local football coach and now currently earns a living flipping homes as a real estate investor.
Growing up, he dropped out of high school and got into trouble with the law several times.
He was convicted of theft in 2002 and was arrested on charges of obstructing a public officer in 2005.
But in his early 20s, he said he decided to finish high school and then went to college.
According to Gibson, everything changed last year when he saw Trump supporters clashing with protesters outside one of the campaign rallies.
He wanted to protect the freedom of all sides, to speak their minds, so he started holding pro-Trump rallies, which put him, his history and his associates under scrutiny.
Gibson said he regrets some of the angry speeches he’s given, hoping that in the future, people will see that his message is of unity, of faith and of tolerance.
“My message is evolving,” Gibson said. “I am evolving.”