Patriot Prayer and the Bias of the Portland Court System - The Case of Tristen Barhite

Published on Feb 19, 2020

- IMAGE - Tristen Barhite

Over the last four years, the people of Portland have witnessed a surge in far-right activity, motivated by the Trump presidency. Beginning with pro-Trump rallies in 2016 attended by members of far-right militias and white supremacist groups, this activity expanded into 2017, 2018, and 2019 as Joey Gibson attempted to make a media and political career through ringleading large gatherings of these violent agitators, buoying up groups like Identity Europa, the Proud Boys, and the Portland-area Daily Stormer group.

Gibson and company's forays into Portland would not have been able to occur without the help of the Portland Police Bureau (PPB), the city of Portland, and the local court system. PPB's collaboration with Joey Gibson and Patriot Prayer is well-documented. The City government has refused to respond to the revelation that Quincy Franklin and Gregory Isaacson, two bigoted followers of Patriot Prayer, are employed by the city. And the courts with jurisdiction over Portland have now fallen prey to influence by Patriot Prayer. In this article we will lay out the malign influence exerted by Joey Gibson's associates at every stage of a court case. From the filing of charges, to the disruption of the trial, to an eventual mistrial due to the actions of a Patriot Prayer associate who was a member of the ostensibly “impartial” jury, this case now joins the spiraling list of occasions in which the far-right has hijacked the mechanisms of city government in order to harass its denizens, and the activists working to protect their community from fascist violence.

PPB Initiates Criminal Charges In Collaboration with Patriot Prayer

At the end of July 2019, local journalists investigating a trove of unofficial communications between Patriot Prayer and the Portland Police Bureau, reported a section which indicated that PPB had launched a criminal investigation after Joey Gibson had complained about a Portland activist. Gibson had sent Lt. Jeffrey Niiya a video by now-deceased far-right YouTuber Leo Stratton, which Niiya then circulated among the department, and which eventually was forwarded to the District Attorney's office. This video showed a local anti-fascist activist confronting holocaust-denier Gregory Isaacson, an employee of the Portland Parks and Recreation Department. This complaint was not filed through any official channels, but instead was completed by the police themselves as a favor to Patriot Prayer.

The email, obtained by The Willamette Week, is reproduced below, with the accused activist's name redacted for privacy reasons:

Sent: Jan. 25, 2018

From: Jeffrey Niiya of the Portland Police Bureau

To: 10 recipients, including Franz Schoening of the Portland Police Bureau

Subject: FW: ANTIFA scumbag [redacted] trolling bicyclist at Trump impeachment rally – YouTube

Joey Gibson sent this to me and was upset we allowed [redacted] [to] violate this person's 1st amendment rights. I want you to see how [redacted] is dressed to blend in with the normal people who came out for this event. Yet, he is still leading the other black bloc.

We need to watch for these tactics of them trying to blend in on these more mainstream events. I would argue [redacted] could have and maybe should have been arrested since they were in the back of the march and most likely would not have caused a huge flashpoint.

It is also worth noting that the local activist in the video is suing Gibson for defamation, as he has often been the target of Gibson's online tirades, accusing the activist of many unproven acts and crimes. Niiya and the PPB helped Gibson continue this harassment, by initiating criminal charges against Gibson's target.

Subsequent Criminal Trial Disrupted By Patriot Prayer

In addition to their collusion with the police, Patriot Prayer and their affiliates have also tried to sway the court system in order to attack and harass their enemies. One pertinent example is the 2019 legal case against an anti-fascist activist who was charged with felony assault after defending himself against members of the white supremacist group American Guard, who attempted to bludgeon the activist and others with a hammer during the Proud Boy rally of August 17, 2019.

None of the American Guard members, the supposedly “victims” of the assault, came forward to press charges. Instead, Reggie Axtell, a Patriot Prayer associate who is best known for threatening to kill the mayor, just happened to be hanging around the courthouse that day. He volunteered to testify to the grand jury against the anti-fascist, despite the fact that Axtell admitted to not being present during the alleged incident.

The criminal trial based on the complaint initiated by Niiya/Gibson, in February 2020, would find more far-right individuals present, trying to exert influence. Various associates of Patriot Prayer were hanging around the courthouse at this time because of the on-going Jeremy Christian trial. Christian, a Patriot Prayer rally-attendee, murdered two people and wounded a third in 2017. The Patriot Prayer group outside the courthouse were looking to harass anyone who came to support the survivors and witnesses.

courthouse 2-14-20
Patriot Prayer associates making nusiances of themselves in front of the Multnomah County Courthouse in February 2020, during the on-going Jeremy Christian trial.

But while they were there for the Christian trial, they took the opportunity to tamper with a different jury. Early in the morning of February 7, Patriot Prayer propagandist Brandon Farley tweeted out a photo of one of the jurors in the trial initiated by the Niiya/Gibson complaint, claiming that the person was “a Member of Antifa.”

farley juror twitter screen
In this February 7 tweet Brandon Farley IDs one of the jurors in the trial initiated by Niiya and Gibson. Farley claims falsely that the person is a “member of antifa.” Image has been redacted to hide the face of the person and another unassociated Twitter account handle.

This is not the first time that Farley has engaged in irresponsible doxxing for the purposes of intimidation. In the image below, an unassociated Twitter account (the handle and avatar have been redacted to protect privacy) draws attention to Farley posting a doxx of an activist, and calling on the violent Neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen to “act accordingly.” Members of the Base, an Atomwaffen affiliated group, were recently arrested in Georgia and charged with plotting to murder two anti-fascist activists… so the threat Farley proposed was far from idle.

farley tweet awd

Declaration of Mistrial Due to One Dissenting Juror, Patriot Prayer Associate Tristen Barhite

Despite Farley's actions, the trial went forward. The jury was unable to reach a unanimous decision and deliver a verdict. Five jurors wanted to acquit and one wanted to convict.

mistrial
There was a mistrial in the case, and so the activist will be tried again.

Patriot Prayer videographer Eli Richey uploaded an interview he conducted with the dissenting juror, revealing her identity as Tristen Renee Barhite (aka Tristen Renee, Tristen-Renee Morrigan-Barhite, Tristen-Renee Lillith Morrigan-Barhite). In the video, Barhite takes issue with Farley having identified her as a “Member of Antifa,” and claims that she is actually quite the opposite. She also states that she was the only juror to find the defendant guilty, thus causing a mistrial rather than an accquital.

richey video clip 1
In Richey's interview with Barhite, Barhite claims to have been the only vote to declare the defendant guilty, in line with the charges instigated by PPB at the behest of Joey Gibson.

richey video clip 2
In that same interview, Barhite says that she is not a member of antifa at all, but in fact, is a self-described “proud patriot”.

Rose City Antifa can confirm that Tristen Barhite is herself a close affiliate of Patriot Prayer. In the photo below, she is pictured along side Haley Adams, Reggie Axtell, and others, at a Seattle event organized by Adam Kelly of the Oregon State Militia on January 12, 2020.

liberation group photo
Tristen Barhite is photographed with Patriot Prayer associates Haley Adams, John Blum, Adam Kelly, Mack Lewis, Reggie Axtell, Landon Duncan, and others. In the comments, we can confirm that it is Barhite, and also see that this is an event organized by Adam Kelly.

In addition to her close associations with Patriot Prayer, Tristen Barhite is also a moderator in the closed III% Oregon State Militia facebook group, and calls herself “Colonel Morrigan Zone-1 Commander” in the organization.

Barhite has been involved with the far-right's efforts to sway the court system for some time. In mid-July 2019, in her position within the Oregon State Militia, Barhite issued an “official stand down order for all rallies tell(sic) further notice” in order to avoid negatively affecting criminal prosecution of anti-fascist activists who defended themselves and others against the militia members’ assaults on June 29, 2019.

Tristen Barhite issues a stand down order
Tristen Barhite uses her role as a moderator and ranking official in a three percent militia to issue a stand down order intended to influence prosecution against anti-fascist demonstrators.

One might guess that as a potential juror in the case initiated by Niiya/Gibson, Barhite would have been asked if she had any prejudices relevant to the case. One might also guess that she didn't mention that she expressed interest in purchasing a shirt suggesting that anti-fascists should be hunted and killed.

Tristen Barhite wants an anti-antifa shirt
Tristen Barhite, who served on a supposedly-impartial jury in a trial against an anti-fascist demonstrator, initiates purchase of propaganda advocating for the murder of anti-fascists.

Adam Kelly, known in the Oregon State Militia facebook group as “General Kelly,” has also long been familiar with Barhite, as demonstrated by Facebook posts such as this one from March of 2019, wherein Kelly, Barhite, and other militia members fantasize about using a 2020 electoral defeat of Donald Trump as a pretext for mass murder, and Kelly articulates that he has “good plans for Portland.”

adam kelly civil war
Militia member Adam Kelly fantasizes about civil war and, months before acting to influence selective prosecution against anti-fascists, indicates that he has “plans for Portland.” Tristen Barhite vows to back him up.

Kelly and Barhite's familiarity is also signaled in this tweet responding to Brandon Farley's claim that Barhite is a member of antifa. Kelly knows that she is not, because she came to his event along with Haley Adams and others on January 12, 2020.

adam kelly tweet
Kelly contradicts Farley's description of Barhite's politics on February 7, 2020.

Adam Kelly also has had a role in swaying court cases in Multnomah County. After he and John Blum attacked anti-fascists during the Proud Boys’ attempted rally on June 29, 2019, Kelly appeared as a witness against the anti-fascists that defended themselves from his attack. John Blum (“Captain Blum” in the Oregon State Militia facebook group) did not appear as a witness, after images emerged showing him instigating the conflict by attacking people with a baton.

blum attack
John Blum of the Oregon State Militia attacks people with a baton on June 29, 2019.

kelly threats
Adam Kelly chats on Facebook about his violent intentions from June 29, 2019 with violent Patriot Prayer member Chris Ponte, Patriot Prayer fascist Katy Weisberg, and neo-Nazi Kristopher Foster aka Frank Pettygrove.

Kelly made a video in which he specifically said that he would not be bringing the Oregon State Militia to any future Proud Boy events, specifically the planned rally for August 17, 2019. He said that he was warned by his lawyers, that doing so could make the Oregon State Militia look bad, and jeopardize his testimony against anti-fascists, as Blum's testimony had been compromised.

video stand down
Kelly describes how he is standing down the Oregon State Militia from Proud Boy events to prevent jeopardizing his testimony against anti-fascists, and how he deleted his Facebook because his attorney told him to.

Kelly also describes how he deleted his Facebook on the advice of his attorney's, because they contained a number of racist and islamophobic memes, as well as the above violent threats against anti-fascists.

kelly facebook memes
Islamophobic and anti-black memes from Kelly's Facebook, removed on the advice of his attorney.

This sort of calculated misrepresentation of the facts, and potentially out-right lying under oath as Barhite, Kelly, and others have done, is now a strategy of far-right groups in the Portland area, intended to maximize state repression of anti-fascists. One can only wonder if Kelly and Barhite had any discussions of their simultaneous efforts to paint anti-fascists as aggressors. Was this a plan by the Oregon State Militia, to attack anti-fascists, and then claim themselves the victims? To what degree was this a calculated plan?

Rose City Antifa Stands with all Anti-fascists against State Repression

While there is a large number of instances in which the far-right and the city are working together to warp the justice system at the expense of anti-fascists, Rose City Antifa and our allies will not be swayed by this collusion. Even now, as on the national stage the president and the attorney general work to save Proud Boy mascot Roger Stone from a jail sentence, the power of communities to defend themselves against far-right aggression continues despite any attempts to bring authoritarian measures against us. As we have said before, and will say again:

We wholly condemn any attempt to criminalize community efforts to stop white supremacist assaults and close concentration camps.

We condemn any attempt to persecute community groups who research racist threats in their community, and educate the people so that they might stop it.

We condemn any attempt by the far-right to strike a blow against their political opponents by demonizing the actions of human beings of conscience.

We condemn any attempt to protect the far-right gangs who make violent incursions into liberal communities.

We condemn any attempt to shield fascism, by attacking those who are in opposition to it.

If you have any information about far-right and white supremacist collusion with the police and the legal establishment, or any other information about these groups’ organizing in the northwest, please email us at [email protected].