While witness testimony from plaintiff Andy Ngo was delivered before the jury, alleged Antifa members disrupted the court proceedings, and the presiding judge threatened to hold individuals in contempt of court over alleged safety concerns and possible leaks of intelligence.
The trial began with Judge Sinlapasai hearing safety concerns from Ngo's legal team. These concerns regarded alleged threats of violence issued on Twitter involving the account @RisingPDX. The plaintiffs claimed that Elizabeth Richter, one of the defendants, has alleged ties to that account. Ngo's attorneys raised concerns about how that account went on "private mode" after Ngo's legal team brought up the alleged threats to the court.
Defendant Richter allegedly has a close relationship with the owner of that account, which she admitted during her deposition, according to the plaintiffs. This raises concerns about intel being shared during the trial, which is illegal. Judge Sinlapasai issued a robust warning indicating that strict security measures are in place due to alleged threats made before the trial. She threatened to hold parties in contempt of court if individuals fail to abide by the strict set of rules she enacted for the trial.
Ngo's legal team then expressed concern about Judge Sinlapasai's decision to strike evidence which allegedly showed deleted tweets and communications via Signal by the defendant(s). The judge ruled Tuesday that this evidence cannot be shown to the jury after Ngo's team argued that this alleged evidence is critical to the case.
Judge Sinlapasai then called Ngo to the stand to continue testifying under oath, in which he was questioned by his attorney, Dorothy Yamamoto. Evidence of Ngo's allegations against defendants John Colin Hacker and Elizabeth Renee Richter were submitted to the court and shown to the jury.
Andy Ngo testifies against defendant John Colin Hacker
Regarding the May 7, 2019, incident in which Hacker allegedly assaulted and forcibly took Ngo's phone during an unprovoked altercation at a 24 hr. gym, Ngo testified that Hacker had allegedly confronted him about his reporting in a highly critical manner. Hacker appeared "very angry" during the altercation, Ngo alleged.
Video evidence of this incident that was presented to the court, which allegedly shows Hacker striking Ngo's phone out of his hand after approaching Ngo in an aggressive manner.
During opening statements, Hacker's defense lawyer, Ms. Burrows, had argued that Ngo's reporting a few days prior to the altercation, on May 1, 2019, involved one of Hacker's friends that was allegedly injured during that incident. Burrows said Ngo's reporting had angered Hacker, which is why the defendant allegedly confronted Ngo.
Ngo testified that his reporting that day had consisted of a Twitter thread of events that took place in chronological order. This included sharing videos, photos, recording speeches and chants that happened during the event. During this event, which occurred outside of a restaurant named Cider Riot in Portland, Oregon, Ngo was attacked multiple times by alleged members of Antifa. He was reportedly doused in bear mace and allegedly beaten by one of the defendants in the complaint, Benjamin Patrick Bolen, with whom he has reached a settlement before the jury trial, on July 14, 2023.
"Did you have any reason to believe your reporting would harm anyone?" Attorney Yamamoto asked Ngo.
Ngo testified: "No," and then explained that he was reporting on a public event that had been advertised on social media, and that other members of the press were also there to report on it.
Yamamoto asked Ngo: "Were you ever intending to hurt anyone in your reporting?"
"No," Ngo testified.
Yamamoto asked Ngo: "After the incident on May 7, 2019, did you talk to anyone about the incident after it occurred."
Ngo testified: "Yes." Evidence of this was submitted by Ngo's team to the court. This is when Ngo allegedly found out Hacker's name for the first time.
The evidence submitted to the court showed that an unidentified individual had publicly named John Colin Hacker as Ngo's attacker on Twitter, and that Ngo allegedly had asked that individual to delete that tweet so Hacker wouldn't get harassed. This communication exchange allegedly happened through direct messages on Twitter.
A screenshot of the exchange in communcations between the plaintiff and the individual that was submitted as evidence is as follows:
Unidentified individual: "His name is John Hacker."
Ngo: "Could you remove the tweet where you named him publicly? I don't want him to get harassed."
Unidentified individual: "Ok."
Despite allegedly being attacked by defendant Hacker, Ngo testified that he had issued this request because he takes great pride in his reporting being extremely accurate, and that he had not been able to independently verify that the person that had allegedly attacked him was Hacker. Ngo was later able to verify that it was, in fact, John Colin Hacker.
After Ngo testified about the trauma that the alleged Antifa attacks had on his physical and mental health, which forced him to flee the country in order to feel a sense of safety, Ngo explained that he went back out into the field to report in Portland in 2021 to work on a new chapter in his book, "Unmasked: Inside Antifa's Radical Plan to Destroy Democracy," which became a New York Times best-seller.
Ngo then testified about the brutal attack that had "broke him" which occurred on May 28, 2021, by alleged members of Antifa in Downtown Portland. Ngo was chased and severely beaten, which resulted in extensive physical injuries and mental health trauma. This incident, which is also referred to as "The Nines Hotel" incident, allegedly involved both defendants, Hacker and Richter. Video footage and social media posts of Ngo's allegations were submitted to the court by the plaintiffs as evidence.
Ngo testified that he was covering a direct action that had allegedly been organized by Antifa on May 28, 2021, which was in commemoration of the anniversary of "one year of riots" that had erupted across the US in 2020 following the death of George Floyd. Ngo said that he took extra safety precautions to cover this event, which included concealing his identity behind a black mask, while also wearing goggles, dressing in black garments, and draping a Black Lives Matter flag across his shoulders.
Ngo testified that he was able to report on the event without incident and explained that he had "felt a sense of relief." That is until he was approached by defendant John Colin Hacker, which resulted in a signficant turn of events for Ngo that severely impacted the course of his life.
Ngo testified that Hacker was the first person that had approached him that night. He allegedly asked Ngo a question about his goggles, wondering if he could see through them. When Hacker approached him, Ngo said that he "felt frozen" and refused to say anything because he didn't want Hacker "to hear my voice." He then recalled Hacker walking away.
Ngo testified that this confrontation caused him to temporarily panic because of the prior incident involving Hacker that occurred on May 7, 2019.
"I was very nervous at that point because of our prior encounter," Ngo said. "I also saw on his social media that in 2020 he posted video of another undercover journalist trying to out him."
Ngo testified that four people in black bloc, that came from the same area that Hacker and Richter were allegedly in, surrounding him, with one individual allegedly asking Ngo, "Why did you look so nervous tonight?" Ngo said that this question made him freeze.
Somebody else allegedly asked Ngo, "Is that a British accent?" which was followed by another individual that had allegedly speculated, "I think it's him."
Ngo said he began to walk away thinking "I have to get out now." He explained that he started to panic and attempted to enter into a local business but the door was locked. Ngo said that the panicking escalated because he "could hear footsteps" behind him and "see shadows" of the people following him. Ngo said then when he had turned around, he was surrounded by Antifa and one individual allegedly said, "Why don't you take off your mask?"
This is when one of the Antifa members allegedly pulled Ngo's mask and goggles off, after which the group then shouted "It's Andy! Get him. Get him."
"I sprinted away the fastest I've ever run in my life, Ngo said. "I just ran." The plaintiff thought to himself that, "They know it’s me now, and if they get me I will get killed."
Ngo testified that he attempted to escape the mob by pounding on people's cars, asking pedestrians for help, and attempting to enter into businessess, but "no one would help me." The mob of Antifa eventually caught up to him and Ngo received a series of beatings across the city.
During opening statements, Ms. Burrows, Hacker's attorney, argued before the jury that Hacker did not announce Ngo's location, nor was he involved in the brutal incident on this night. Ngo's attorneys presented evidence that they say contradicted Burrows' argument.
Ngo's team submitted both video footage and written evidence that allegedly shows Hacker roaming with the pack of alleged Antifa members that had brutally attacked Ngo, as well as doxxing Ngo's location on social media during the attack. Ngo was able to point out Hacker in the video footage and verify a social media post from Hacker, in which he had allegedly posted Ngo's location on his twitter account @Johnnthelefty that night.
“People are saying Andy Ngo was spotted at Portland Protest and chased off. Said he ran into AC hotel or the Nines,” Hacker tweeted on May 28, 2021, according to a screenshot submitted into evidence.
The plaintiffs broke down the surveillance footage obtained from that night, which revealed that defendant John Colin Hacker was either marching with the mob of Antifa, or was in close range to the black bloc Antifa members while they were allegedly assaulting Ngo, according to the video evidence.
Ngo referred to the brutal beating as a "near death experience," saying that he had thought that he was "going to die" and that it was the "worst panic I have had in my life."
The plaintiff testified that he was so badly beaten that the skin on his knee was shredded off, had severe pain in multiple areas of his body, had difficulty walking, and other injuries. Ngo said that during the attacks, he was pushed up against the building and was hit repeatedly, tackled to the ground, and placed into a chokehold.
As he was getting beaten, Ngo said, "My only thought was 'Get away! Any way you can. Get away!'"
Ngo testified that he was able to escape his alleged attackers after independant journalist Sergio Olmos distracted the Antifa mob while Ngo was being beaten. Ngo had then escaped into The Nines Hotel, where the night continued to escalate.
Andy Ngo testifies against defendant Elizabeth Renee Richter
Within moments after Hacker approached Ngo on May 28, 2021, defendant Richter was the second person to allegedly approach the plaintiff that night. Ngo testified that Richter did not say anything to him, but rather observed him and then walked away. He said that this worried him because Richter had already confronted him about wearing "fake black bloc" at a protest he was covering in the past, Ngo alleged.
Ngo testified that he decided to make his exit from the event after Richter had approached him.
"I didn't want to run because it would attract attention," Ngo said. "I was thinking maybe things are okay."
Shortly after, the alleged mob of Antifa militants approached Ngo and began the series of violent attacks on him throughout multiple blocks in downtown Portland. Richter allegedly approached Ngo for a second time that night while he hid in The Nines Hotel after being severely beaten.
Video evidence submitted to the court that was taken by both Richter and produced through sureveillance cameras allegedly shows the defendant approach Ngo as he hid behind a desk in The Nines Hotel, while broadcasting his location via livestream. Richter is also heard in the video screaming and encouraging threats of violence towards the plaintiff.
"As I was on my knees hiding, I look to the right and see Ms. Richter recording me with her phone," Ngo testified. He explained that seeing Richter inside the hotel made him feel that he "wasn't safe yet" and that the night of violence and intimidation was "far from over."
"If she's recording live, other people know exactly where I am at," Ngo worried.
Hotel staff reacted to the encounter by repelling Richter outside. During this time, Richter can allegedly be heard screaming on video, "You thought the milkshakes were bad last time Andy? We’re going to beat the f*ck out of you b*tch," Ngo testified.
"From that moment, I was still hiding behind the desk. I saw more people gather outside the doors. I heard screaming and them shouting my name. A large group gathered and they tried to break inside the hotel to get me," Ngo alleged. According to video evidence, Richter is seen involved in this incident decribed by Ngo. She can be seen banging on hotel windows and doors, screaming violent threats, and referencing previous acts of violence carried out by members of Antifa against Ngo.
Further evidence submitted to the court included a series of posts allegedly made by Richter on her Twitter account @matcha_chai which references the May 28, 2021 attack, including doxxing the plaintiff's location and the livestreams that she had recorded that night.
Screenshots of Twitter posts that were made by Richter allegedly on this night and the days that followed, were shown to the jury as evidence and are as follows:
"Folks are chasing down who they suspect is Andy Ngo. In the area by Pioneer."
"Andy Ngo running up 5th and Morrison."
"When Andy ran in the hotel I ran in with him and pretended I was getting chased lol"
"Folks are saying there's a chance Andy Ngo has been moved to the hospital."
"Andy was discovered by one of our comrades who's a f*cking badass while Andy was in full bloc fyi. It had nothing to do with his facial appearance we couldn't see his face."
Richter made an additional reference to The Nines Hotel incident on May 28 of this year, writing on Twitter, "Happy day to all that celebrate" with an attached photo of Ngo crouched down in fear, according to testimony.
Ngo testified that he was able to identify Richter by finding an individual that he had thought was a family member of hers after investigating on Facebook. Ngo had sent a message to that individual who was identified by Ngo as Richter's ex-husband. Ngo sent screenshots of the defendant to this individual who confirmed to Ngo that the identity of the woman in the video was his ex-wife, Elizabeth Renee Richter.
During the trial, the plaintiffs were asked to submit evidence, which allegedly shows extensive communications between defendants Hacker and Richter, in which they had reportedly discussed the May 28, 2021, attack on Ngo. However, Judge Sinlapasai ruled that the evidence cannot be submitted, after the defense objected. The issue with the evidence that was raised by the defense team pertains to it being in the form of meta data, for which there is no expert testifying during the trial.
The plaintiffs argued that this evidence is critical to the case and that this same type of data is used in police reports to identity owners of social media accounts and posts associated with it.
Ngo was able to recall an exchange in communcations between Hacker and Richter, in which Richter allegedly wrote to Hacker, "OMFG thank you John for spotting folks. The follow up message is a video of me cowering in the hotel behind the table," Ngo testified.
Impact the May 28, 2021 incident had on Ngo
After the incident on May 28, 2021, Ngo testified that he was forced to travel to different safe houses across multiple states before ultimately deciding to move to London to build a new life abroad due to safety concerns.
Ngo explained to the court that the chronic targeting by far-left extremists, both in-person and online, continous death threats, concerns for both his and his family's safety, physical beatings, and severe mental health trauma, resulted in his decision to leave the city in which he was raised and grew up loving.
With tears beginning to stream down his face, Ngo testified: "What I learned is that if I stay in Portland, people are going to try to kill me...I had such intense fear in just leaving the house, being on the street, I was so terrified being in Portland and I don't know how I would have lived staying there."
Ngo explained that one of the biggest factors in his decision to flee the US was that he felt as if he had put his family's safety at-risk. He testified that his mother is elderly, his father is in a nursing home and in declining health, and that leaving his family made him feel "like I was letting my parents, family, and ancestors down."
Following the May 28, 2021, incident, Ngo testified that he had nightmares, severe triggers, fear, difficulty sleeping, and ongoing panic attacks. He explained that he struggled getting back to being productive as a journalist and that writing about subjects he normally covered triggered him. Ngo said that he started publishing less of his own writing and continued to miss deadlines for the second book he was working on, explaining that he was unable to write "because of the triggers."
Ngo said that he would have "flashback moments" of "legs in black surrounding me" and Antifa "screaming my name."
While Ngo testified that the risk to his life from injuries sustained during the June, 2019, attack was more severe because of the traumatic brain injury, the May 2021 incident "really broke" him.
"The physical pain was worse," Ngo said. "Everyday activities for months was physically painful and the triggers from this attack were way more severe. I kept thinking about that near death experience, how these people pinned me down, beat me, and with nobody helping me, with hotel staff not calling 911, it was isolating and triggered my experiences of depression."
"It really broke me," Ngo said. "When I tried going on the ground again many months later, in different countries in Europe, all of those triggers came back and I couldn't return to do it."
Ngo testified that he has had to change his reporting style, which has impacted both his confidence and career.
"When you're not on the ground, your reporting quality suffers," Ngo said, explaining that he now has to rely on multiple sources such as other journalists' reporting, police reports, and documents to produce similar quality.
In addition, Ngo testified that he has spent tens of thousands of dollars in rent and security costs. Evidence was presented to the court which included an AirBnB invoice for more than $19,000.00 for around a six month period, and thousands of dollars in security measures for his parents home, which Antifa has allegedly shown up to. An invoice for more than $16,000.00 was also submitted as evidence which was for Ngo's rent.
Antifa members disrupt court proceedings/additional incidents
During the trial, alleged members of Antifa caused a nuisance in the courtroom while Ngo was testifying before the jury. This was after alleged threats on Twitter were made the day prior, which resulted in a heavier police presence at the courthouse on Wednesday. An Antifa member viewing the trial began to harass members of the press, including myself, which resulted in them receiving a significant amount of warnings from the sheriff.
Judge Champone P. Sinlapasai then enacted stricter media policies after ordering a recess following the disruption. The policies in place for media while in the courtroom include no cell phones, no internet connection, no live-reporting or tweeting, no livestreaming, no video recording, and no photography except for one designated photographer, that will distribute photos to the press pool. The Judge also explained that it was possible someone had been allegedly leaking intel while viewing the trial on WebX, which resulted in the Judge shutting that down for the remainder of the trial.
The Judge called an additional recess over safety concerns after a male individual enter the courtroom. That person was later escorted out of the courthouse by the sheriff.
"Anyone who disrupts the court in any way shape or form, you will be removed and not allowed to return to the hearing," Judge Sinlapasai said. "I can move into contempt proceedings if you do not follow the orders put in place."
Day 3 of the trial will resume with cross examination of Andy Ngo.
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