The Proud Boys is back in the news. Judge Heidi Moawad sentenced Alan Sweeney to 10 years in prison with three years post-prison supervision. This was announced on Friday by Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt. Alan Sweeney is a member of the far-right extremist Proud Boys group.
Prosecutor Nathan Vasquez sought a slightly higher sentence of 10 years and one month, calling Swinney a “lightning rod” for political violence and an “extreme danger” to the community. Defense lawyer Joseph Westover argued for a probationary sentence. At trial, Westover said Swinney was acting in self-defense against “agitators” who wouldn’t stop harassing him. This is a position that they take to justify violence after they are caught.
Swinney, who appeared at several demonstrations in the Northwest, became a “known entity” in Portland. He instigated and committed violent acts under the banner of free speech and pro-police sentiments, prosecutors said. Many on the left have accused the police of helping the Proud Boys during protests.
Prosecutors argued on August 15, 2020 and August 22, 2020 that Swinney led a small group of like-minded people and engaged in multiple acts of violence during demonstrations stemming from the murder of George Floyd.
In addition, Swinney caused a serious eye injury by shooting a man in the face with a paintball gun. He discharged bear mace on multiple occasions; spraying some people directly in the face. He aimed a loaded Ruger .357 magnum handgun at a crowd. He also shot people with paintballs, prosecutors said.
His arch enemies are anti- racists. In social media posts, he made threats against “the left” and “antifa,” prosecutors said, and he tried to recruit people to form a militia to fight in what he believed was a civil war. Swinney saw himself as a “protector” who came to Portland to “stand in between” black-clad demonstrators causing havoc in the city and “Back the Blue” protesters, Westover told the court.
Swinney home ties are in Texas where he’d been watching videos of protests in Portland and the final straw for Swinney was a rally in 2018 in Portland where he saw someone throw an explosive into a group of unarmed protesters, Westover said.
The jury convicted Swinney of 12 criminal counts. This is among the most significant penalties levied on someone who brawled in Portland’s political protests.