The #MeToo movement is catching up with sexual predators who brand themselves “male feminist allies” within the progressive movement, and Portland’s Resistance co-founder Gregory McKelvey is the latest activist to have his skeletons unearthed.
The prominent Portland-based activist was outed for previously being arrested and jailed on suspicion of strangling and kidnapping his ex-girlfriend six years ago, a Wednesday article in The Oregonian revealed.
McKelvey is one of the most prominent social justice activists in Portland, first emerging in the city’s politics in 2016 as a vocal supporter of Bernie Sanders, and then later as a figurehead in the Portland’s Black Lives Matter movement.
He is the co-founder of Portland’s Resistance, whose leader—a sex offender named Micah Rhodes—was charged with sexually abusing a minor in 2017.
McKelvey achieved fame following Donald Trump’s victory with his establishment of Portland’s Resistance as a model to “resist” the democratically-elected president’s agenda, and led street demonstrations numbering in the thousands in protest of Trump. His advocacy for social justice causes earned him profiles in liberal and left-leaning publications, including Vice and The Guardian.
The paper detailed how the case against McKelvey, who was then an 18-year-old student at Oregon State University, was eventually dismissed under mysterious circumstances. Both his police and court records were expunged—but a news article from the Corvallis Gazette-Times offered some details of the September 2011 arrest before McKelvey had it removed from the publication’s online website. An archived version remains online.
McKelvey previously denied the charges when questioned on social media, calling reports “fake manufactured news.”
For months, McKelvey declined repeated requests for an interview with The Oregonian, but released a statement on Tuesday as the paper was gearing up to publish the article to state that he had “never in my life had a physical altercation with any woman,” and that he was sorry he didn’t address the issue publicly in the past.
The Oregonian states that McKelvey “indicated several times that he might agree to an on-the-record interview, which had the effect of delaying publication.”
The paper found that in the original story on Corvallis, Oregon State Police responded to a report of a physical altercation between McKelvey and an ex-girlfriend, who was then 17, at an OSU residence hall Sept. 24, 2011.
Although scarce on details, the paper noted that police launched an investigation into McKelvey six days after the dorm encounter and arrested him on suspicion of strangulation, assault, harassment, and first-degree kidnapping. McKelvey posted bail set at $132,500 on the same day.
Now-expunged records viewed by The Oregonian and a jail mugshot confirmed the newspaper report.
According to The Oregonian, other social justice activists have been aware of the allegations against McKelvey for over a year, but remained mum on the subject until even more people started asking questions about him as the #MeToo movement intensified.
Multiple activists who spoke to the paper say they first learned of the allegations not long after he launched Portland’s Resistance near the end of 2016. Some, like Olivia Pace, a former organizer of Portland State University Student Union, said that the issue was brought up in meetings and the group decided to maintain its distance from McKelvey and his organization.
The issue was once again raised when another leader of Portland’s Resistance, Micah Rhodes, was accused of sexually assaulting a minor last January.
The Oregonian states that McKelvey’s allies slowly distanced themselves from him as rumors of his arrest surfaced and spread throughout the local community. Others, who directly questioned him over the allegations, were met with stony silence and blocks on Twitter. When a Portland man shared the archived news article on Facebook, McKelvey reportedly replied: “This isn’t even a real article lol this is a web archive of fake manufactured news,” adding that he has never been arrested or booked.
His closest allies, however, were keen to sweep the issue under the rug. The issue didn’t really blow up until #MeToo took off late last year.
The paper states that Joey Gibson, the founder of right-wing group Patriot Prayer, has also called out McKelvey’s arrest record. He made his comments before a Portland school board to question McKelvey’s fitness in speaking to elementary students.
“In my opinion, people need to know who they’re working with,” said Teressa Raiford, the founder of a Black Lives Matter-supporting group called Don’t Shoot PDX who used to work with McKelvey. “We don’t hold men accountable, to the detriment of all our safety.”