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Facebook removes Patriot Prayer founder Joey Gibson

Joey Gibson, leader of Vancouver-based Patriot Prayer, waves an American flag at a white supremacist rally in Portland, Ore., Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019.
Bradley W. Parks
Joey Gibson, leader of Vancouver-based Patriot Prayer, waves an American flag at a white supremacist rally in Portland, Ore., Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019.

Facebook has removed the profile page of Patriot Prayer founder Joey Gibson for violating public safety policies, the company confirmed Friday. Patriot Prayer is a far-right group that attracts white supremacists and has engaged in violence

A spokesperson declined to specify if any of Gibson’s posts specifically provoked removal, but said it came as part of a recently tightened “dangerous individuals and organizations” policy.

“We will continue to review content and accounts against all of our content policies in an effort to keep people safe,” Facebook spokesperson Jen Ridings said.

When reached for comment, Gibson, whose Vancouver-based group has engaged in violence and has attracted white supremacists, noted that pages related to “antifa” remain active.

“Antifa murders my friend while he is walking home, and instead of the multibillion-dollar company banning Portland antifa pages they ban Patriot Prayer and myself,” Gibson said in a text message.

Gibson’s removal from the site follows escalating tensions related to protests in Portland, and it comes hours after he posted on Facebook an unsubstantiated claim about the fatal shooting of Aaron Danielson, a Patriot Prayer supporter.

Danielson died of a gunshot wound to the chest in downtown Portland Aug. 29, after taking part in a pro-Trump car caravan through the city. Video from the scene showed two shots being fired near the corner of Southwest Third Avenue and Alder Street.

On Thursday, Michael Forest Reinoehl, in an interview with VICE News, took responsibility for killing Danielson. He claimed self-defense and said “lots of lawyers suggest that I shouldn’t even be saying anything.”

Reinoehl died hours later, fatally shot by law enforcement during an attempted arrest near Olympia, Washington. The U.S. Marshals Service said Reinoehl had a gun and was “threatening the lives of law enforcement officers.” It’s not clear whether Reinoehl fired at officers.

On Facebook, Gibson responded to the news by claiming as many as a dozen more people were “involved” in Danielson’s death, including the journalist who interviewed Reinoehl.

Ahead of the U.S. presidential election, Facebook announced on Aug. 19 it had tightened policies to curb misinformation and content it deems as potentially inciting violence. A spokesperson pointed to that announcement when confirming Gibson’s removal.

“The account was removed as part of the actions we took last month based on an update to our ‘Dangerous Individuals and Organizations’ policy,” spokesperson Ridings wrote to OPB.

The move led to the removal of hundreds of groups and pages with ties to the QAnon conspiracy theory.

Copyright 2020 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Troy Brynelson