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After a few hours of deliberations, a jury rejected Andy Ngo’s attempt to sue two defendants in a civil trial. Ngo, a far-right propagandist, baselessly alleged local independent journalist John Hacker and local activist Elizabeth Richter were involved in a 2020 assault against him. Both were found not liable for Ngo’s assault. Three other defendants were found in default, meaning they did not appear in court.
The decision followed an intense week of statements from both the plaintiff and the defendants and a courtroom and listening rooms packed with far-right agitators trying to provoke confrontation.
Andy Ngo, for those unfamiliar, is a far-right propagandist whose main schtick in the right-wing media ecosystem is scaremongering about “antifa.” In the real world, antifascists are usually local activists who research and intervene when the far-right organizes or otherwise attempts to cause violence. In Ngo’s conspiratorial narrative, they’re a highly organized, nefarious gang with ties to the Democratic party that victimizes innocent, freedom-loving Americans. Ngo is—or for a long time was—based in Portland. He regularly posts mugshots and selectively-edited footage of activists and independent journalists arrested at protests to his hundreds of thousand of followers on Twitter all the while lying about them being part of a nefarious “antifa” organization that does not exist. Those caught in Ngo’s crosshairs regularly receive harassment and death threats—and worse.
When the lawsuit was originally filed in 2020, Ngo was trying to sue Rose City Antifa and about 50 other unidentified people—called “John and Jane Does” in legalese—claiming assault and injuries from numerous different instances, including in 2019 when he got hit with a milkshake, and later in 2021 when he was assaulted after being found “undercover” by leftists at an event in 2021.
On July 14th, weeks before this trial began, a Multnomah County judge dismissed Rose City Antifa (RCA) from this lawsuit on the grounds that they are “not a discrete entity under common law” and therefore could not be sued or served. The statute of limitations were also passed.
Additionally, the lawsuit offered no evidence that any of Ngo’s assailants were members of Rose City Antifa, nor did it show that RCA directed people to attack him as Ngo claimed. Despite RCA not being a part of the trial, Andy Ngo and his ilk continue to advertise it as such in an attempt to get more donations and sympathy. As is his brand, Ngo pretended he was going against “Antifa” instead of two individuals.
As Ngo’s claims fell apart, he and his legal team shifted the goalposts. After RCA was dismissed from the case, the focus of the trial was predominantly about an incident that happened in 2021 in downtown Portland, in which Ngo attempted to “infiltrate” a protest, was promptly found out, chased out and took shelter at the Nines Hotel. The lawsuit now involved Hacker, a journalist, and Richter, an activist, neither of which had anything to do with Ngo’s assault. and instead were named simply because they were the only people that Ngo was able to identify on the night of the Nines Hotel incident.
The trial, far from shining a light on Ngo’s phantom “Antifa” organization, was a chance for some to expose some of the harm Ngo himself causes. An attorney named Jennifer Christianson was a witness at this trial, and testified that she had been arrested after an officer lied to another officer and claimed that she had assaulted him. Jennifer stated that after her arrest, Andy Ngo posted her mugshot and false information, which was then followed up by a harassment campaign including death threats and calls to her former employers. She wasn’t the only one Ngo targeted this way to speak at the trial. Both defendants stated that they had also been targets of the plaintiff’s social media posts and follow-up harassment. Speaking personally, when Ngo posted about me, I was met with countless direct messages of people wishing death and harm to both me and my child simply for covering events and showing a side of the story they didn’t want to see. After being publicly targeted by Ngo, I’ve had people break into my home, my address and phone number were put online—it doesn’t end. I was even brutally assaulted last October by a group of Proud Boys who had been sharing Ngo’s posts about me in their telegram channel.
During a criminal trial which happened back in November, Ngo even admitted under oath that he is aware how his posts can put people in severe danger.
“Do you acknowledge that when you tweet about someone online, it can potentially make them a target in the same way you have been targeted?” an attorney asked.
Ngo answered with a simple “Yes.”
Dr. Alexander Reid Ross, a local Geography professor and author of Against the Fascist Creep, testified as a witness and was questioned about the ways in which Ngo lies in his coverage. When asked if Ngo’s book was non-fiction, Dr. Ross let out a laugh, then proceeded to detail off the top of his head where Ngo lied in the book. He first pointed to the hundreds of mugshots that Ngo posted where he baselessly called every one of them “Antifa.” Ross then described other instances of Ngo lying— such as the death of Aaron Danielson (Jay Danielson), a Patriot Prayer associate who was killed in 2020 by an antifascist. Dr. Ross explained that in Ngo’s book, he claims Danielson was murdered because of a whisper campaign of leftists calling him a fascist. In reality, Danielson was locally-recognized as part of a far-right street brawling crew called Patriot Prayer, was armed and pulled out mace, during the altercation. His killer, Michael Reinoehl, claimed self-defense and was later killed by U.S. Marshalls before due process took place.
The incident Ngo focused on for the trial happened at a small demonstration on May 28th, 2021—the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder. Near the end of the night, one of the demonstrators discovered someone that seemed out of place—someone shortly after identified as Ngo. He was concealing his identity by wearing black bloc; he had his face covered, was wearing blacked out goggles, and he had a BLM flag draped around his shoulders. He was discovered towards the end of the night so many people who were out had already gone home. While Hacker attended the demonstration and recalled wondering if the odd person was Ngo, he testified that he only told another journalist of his suspicions. He was not the only one who had grown suspicious of the person draped in the Black Lives Matter flag. At some point after being discovered, Ngo was chased down the street where he was eventually tackled and had a few punches thrown at him. The altercation ended quickly when journalist Sergio Olmos stood in between Ngo and his assailant(s). Ngo got up with a few scrapes on his hands and knees, and was able to sprint the rest of the way to the Nines Hotel where he hid behind a desk in the lobby the time Ngo was hiding under the desk at the Nines Hotel, an opposing group had shown up and were all outside of the hotel yelling things through the window. Richter made it inside and was live streaming the ongoing incident. Hacker was around the plaintiff before he was discovered and outed, but did not arrive at the Nines until long after Ngo was already inside.by.
Both of the defendants testified that they were not near Ngo when he was assaulted, and further video proof corroborated both of the defendants’ accounts. Ngo testified under oath that he didn’t recognize any of his assailants and that neither Hacker nor Richter touched him. Despite this, he sought $300,000 from the two, baselessly claiming they incited the assault and were responsible for his emotional distress. Attorney Cooper Brinson, who had been representing Richter, told the jurors that recognizing a famous figure and criticizing him was no crime. Ngo also claimed under oath that the demonstration on May 28th was uneventful—despite continually describing this night as a riot on his social media to make it appear more dramatic than it was.
The trial proceeded with numerous interruptions and safety risks throughout the week. As I waited with other gallery members, I sat and watched as Ngo supporters paced back and forth and on numerous occasions attempted to intimidate supporters of the defendants. Ngo’s media team, including Katie Daviscourt and Chelly Bouferrache, local right wing agitators who work with Ngo, falsely blamed the interruptions on “Antifa.” . Ngo had colleagues of his covering the trial while he was making his case.
Daviscourt, who has been posting both on Twitter and Ngo’s current propaganda mill, The Post Millennial, has been continuously lying about events that occurred throughout the duration of the trial. On August 1st, day two of the trial, Daviscourt used The Post Millennial to blame interruptions by Paul Pawlowski, a far-right agitator who was stalking one of the defendants, on “Antifa.” Pawlowski has visited Hacker’s house and taken photos of it numerous times. He also doxxed Hacker’s entire family, including his twelve-year-old daughter. Davinscourt likely knew fully well who Pawlowski is because the latter showed up to the courthouse with Ngo’s friend Chelly Bouferrache, and immediately sat next to her and chatted with her. Bouferrache was with Daviscourt for the duration of the trial.
Before the trial began, the judge decided that there would only be one approved photographer in the courtroom, and that the photographer allotted to the trial would share images with the press pool. For the third time, the trial had to be stopped because Boufferache was filming and photographing the trial against court orders. When this happened, the judge asked for names and press credentials Bouferrache gave the judge a fake press pass claiming she was working for The Post Millennial, which the court confirmed to be a lie. Aside from lying about her media credentials and who she works for, Bouferrache also omitted her friendship with the plaintiff, but the court confirmed this as well.
Ngo’s attorney argued that the events that happened the night that he was undercover as “Antifa” in downtown Portland had broken Ngo—causing him so much fear that he then had to flee the country, moving to England. The defense’s lawyers countered this, arguing that the incident boosted Ngo’s career, including book sales and speaking engagements at the Heritage Foundation.
At one point, Ngo’s attorney tried to call Michael Trollan to testify as a witness. Trollan, who works for Ngo on TPM website, was present in the gallery the entire week of the trial. After being called to the stand as a witness by Ngo’s attorney, the judge asked if he had been in the gallery. Ngo’s attorney lied and said that “my understanding was he was here this morning.” After some shock in the courtroom for trying to call a gallery member as an expert witness, the judge ruled that Trollan couldn’t testify.
One of the most dramatic incidents in the trial occurred when Heather Clark took the stand. In 2019, Clark was assaulted at the Cider Riot attack by Patriot Prayer. A neo-Nazi called Ian Kramer shattered one of her vertebrae with a metal baton and knocked her unconscious. Ngo attended this event and was present as Patriot Prayer members planned it, but of course omitted any mention of their premeditation from his “coverage.” Instead, Ngo named Clark and claimed she was lying about her injuries.
During Clark’s time at the stand, she showed medical records proving her injuries. After exhibiting Ngo’s tweets claiming she faked her broken vertebrae, Ngo’s lawyer Gregory Michael, went on to insinuate the exact same thing. During cross examination, Ngo’s lawyers presented a medical record that belonged to Clark. Clark did not release these forms to the Ngo’s lawyers, nor did the lawyers present these documents during the initial discovery or with any of the other evidence they intended to use. Such records normally cannot be obtained legally without the patient’s consent.
After finding out that Ngo’s attorneys used documents that were illegally obtained, the judge immediately and ordered his lawyers to destroy the document.