What is Patriot Prayer? Michael Reinoehl says Aaron Danielson's shooting in Portland was in 'self defense'

In a recent interview, Reinoehl said 'he had no choice' but to shoot because otherwise his friend of color would have been killed

                            What is Patriot Prayer? Michael Reinoehl says Aaron Danielson's shooting in Portland was in 'self defense'
Patriot Prayer Rally (Getty Images)

In a revelation, Antifa protester Michael Reinoehl said that he acted in self-defense during the fatal shooting of Aaron 'Jay' Danielson who was affiliated to right-wing group Patriot Prayer. The fatal incident occurred after the 'Trump 2020 Cruise Rally in Portland' on August 29. Danielson was shot in the chest and killed in downtown Portland after an evening of violent clashes between Trump supporters and BLM protesters denouncing police brutality. "I had no choice. I mean, I, I had a choice. I could have sat there and watched them kill a friend of mine of color. But I wasn't going to do that," Reinoehl, 48, said in an exclusive video interview published by Vice News on September 3.

Reinoehl, however, did not mention he shot Danielson as seen in the short video segment shown by Vice News before the full interview aired on September 3 night. However, he did say his actions that night were in self-defense. Vice News reported that Reinoehl said he feared he and his friend would be stabbed, but the parts of the interview released so far do not give out much details about the shooter’s claims.

Reinoehl is reportedly a self-declared '100% Antifa' and was active in Black Lives Matter protests against racism and police brutality in Portland that have been ongoing for nearly 100 days now. As per various reports, Danielson, 39, was fatally shot when he was leaving a political demonstration in support of POTUS on August 29. At the time of shooting, he was wearing a hat with the insignia of Patriot Prayer, of which he was a supporter. Here’s what we need to know about the group he supported called ‘Patriot Prayer’.

What's Patriot Prayer?

The organization was founded in 2016 by Joey Gibson, an activist. Various media reports claim that the group is far-right in its approach and is based in Portland, Oregon area. However, the group describes itself as advocating free speech and opposing governments. The group is active in organizing rallies and protests in support of Trump but has often met cancellations and counter-protests for alleged incitement of violence and attracting extremists.

For instance, its 2017 rally in San Francisco's Crissy Field got cancelled after its founder Gibson blamed Mayor Ed Lee and House minority leader Nancy Pelosi for categorizing the group as White extremist and escalating tensions. In June 2017, when the group again organized a ‘free speech rally’ in support of Trump in Portland, it invited backlash from over 70 groups of labour, religious organizations, socialists, anarchists and other anti-fascists, as reported by Al Jazeera.

Joey Gibson (R) from Patriot Prayer and Peoples Rights Washington rally supporters outside Vancouver City Hall during a protest against the Washington state mask mandate on June 26, 2020, in Vancouver, Washington (Getty Images)

BBC reported that Gibson has taken to the group's Facebook page to post a video message saying that he was "absolutely not" the White supremacist that many accuse him to be. Gibson reportedly pointed out that he himself is mixed race and that all he had been trying to do was to preach freedom, love, peace and free speech. Such remarks from the founder came after Patriot's ‘free speech’ rally was canceled in San Francisco in 2017 due to fears that it could turn violent. 

Though the number of members in the group is unknown, an infiltrator into Patriot Prayer said that the group only had around 15 core members in 2019, as reported by Portland Mercury. Some reports show that Patriot Prayer has had good relations with certain police officers who allegedly provide them information on Left-wing groups. In 2019, Daily Beast reported that a Portland police lieutenant gave tips to Gibson and passed information about leftist protests, counseling him on how to prevent one notoriously violent fighter’s arrest, which again brought the group under the scanner. 

Joey Gibson, leader of the Patriot Prayer, leads a group of alt-right demonstrators on August 17, 2019, in Portland, Oregon (Getty Images)

Despite all such controversies and allegations of inviting counter-protests with its rallies, Patriot Prayer’s Facebook bio reads: "Patriot Prayer is about fighting corruption, big government, and tyranny using God for strength and the power of love."

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