Joey Gibson suing Battle Ground mayor

Gibson says Mike Dalesandro violated the law by blocking him and other people on social media

BATTLE GROUND — Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson and his attorney, Angus Lee, are going on the offensive.

Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson speaks at a rally on the WSU Vancouver campus in 2018. Photo by Mike Schultz
Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson speaks at a rally on the WSU Vancouver campus in 2018. Photo by Mike Schultz

Gibson said on Monday he was filing a lawsuit against Battle Ground Mayor Mike Dalesandro, as well as a Seattle restaurant.

For Dalesandro, Gibson and Lee allege the mayor “spread misinformation” as part of a “deceptive campaign” about Patriot Prayer and candidates trying to unseat “establishment city council members.”

Gibson also alleges that Dalesandro blocked a number of people on social media who posted comments critical of his calling Patriot Prayer an “outside group” aiming to change the culture of Battle Ground.

“His actions have created a ‘filter bubble’ where only people who shared Dalesandro’s same opinion had their comments displayed,” Lee wrote in his lawsuit filing. “This is in direct opposition to the larger democratic goal of creating a public town square on the web, where every voice has a chance to be heard.”

Lee cites a recent Supreme Court ruling which determined that elected officials who use social media to interact with the public are constrained by the First Amendment, and must treat their accounts as if “they were gathered on a sidewalk or in a public park, or at a city council meeting or town hall.”

During the run-up to the general election, Dalesandro has been vocal on his personal Facebook page, posting videos speaking out against city council candidates connected to Gibson and his controversial group. Those candidates include Shauna Walters, running for Steven Phelps open seat, and Joshua VanGelder, running against incumbent Philip Johnson. Rhiannon Parks also recently announced a write-in campaign against Deputy Mayor Shane Bowman.

“My rights have been violated by Delasandro (sic) numerous times,” writes Gibson. “I asked him several times to stop breaking the law.  His response was to unblock me but disable my ability to comment and defend myself against his lies.   If he is speaking the truth then why is he afraid of citizens being able to comment?”

Gibson is seeking $100,000 in damages and injunctive relief in his lawsuit against the Battle Ground mayor.

As of Monday evening, Dalesandro said he had no comment in regards to the lawsuit or Gibson’s allegations.

In his lawsuit against an unnamed Seattle restaurant, Gibson alleges he was asked to leave the business last Winter after being told “I have orders from my boss not to let your kind into this bar.”

In the incident, which was recorded on video, Gibson refused to leave and was eventually physically removed from the business.

“I am tired of being treated as a 2nd class citizen,” the former state senate candidate writes.

It wasn’t immediately clear if a monetary demand was connected to the lawsuit against the Seattle business.

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