US senate candidate Joey Gibson holds rally in Spokane amid counter protests
SPOKANE, Wash. — It was an announcement that was met with concern and opposition by a number of Spokane area community groups, U.S. Senate candidate Joey Gibson would be holding a rally at CenterPlace in Spokane Valley on Sunday.
Gibson is the head of Patriot Prayer, a right-leaning group that has attracted white nationalists and violence to some of their previous rallies, which included a rally last month at the University of Washington.
Organizers of Sunday’s rally had police on scene patrolling to keep the peace. Fortunately, they were ultimately an unneeded precaution as the Freedom First rally got off without a hitch and without violence.
Roughly thirty or so people attended Gibson’s rally. Gibson is running to unseat Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) in the upcoming election as a republican.
“He’s a candidate outside the box and isn’t a classical republican,” said attendee Russell Schultz. “He’s someone you can come listen to, you may agree or may not agree with what he’s saying.”
Schultz says the white nationalists that show up to his rally aren’t necessarily there for the candidate, instead they are just looking for a fight.
“I think it stems back to the Trump campaign when people were getting beaten up after the rallies,” he said. “I think the white nationalists show up to fight and they have an enemy.”
That enemy, if you ask Gibson campaign members, is the alt-left and the Antifa.
Gibson’s rally was kicked off with blaming the Antifa for violence and silencing opposing voices.
Gibson also spoke about his platform.
“We are talking term limits, changing the tax code, getting a balanced budget and taking care of the middle class,” he said.
He says that freedom of speech is an important pillar of his platform and denounced the white nationalists that show up to events.
“I would say the same thing to them that I would say to any black nationalist or Mexican nationalists group, we have to drop the identity of politics and focus on what is on the inside,” he said.
However, counter protesters were still concerned about his rally’s histories of attracting white nationalists and violence. Several protested outside of CenterPlace in Spokane Valley, but the majority of them organized in front of Spokane’s City Hall.
Roughly 40 counter protestors were organized by groups such as Spokane Democratic Socialists of America, Socialist Alternative and the Veterans for Peace.
“When I was younger my mother used to say, tell me who you hang with and I’ll tell you who you are, Joey hasn’t told us who he is,” said protester Alfredo Llamedo.
Both Gibson’s rally and the counter protest kicked off at 2 p.m and ran until 4 p.m.
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