The mystery surrounding the arrest of Tusitala “Tiny” Toese, the 26-year-old Samoan street brawler who has been a central player in far-right Patriot Prayer and Proud Boys violence in the Pacific Northwest since 2017, has been cleared up. According to the Portland Mercury, Toese is currently being held in Thurston County, Washington, on a secret arrest warrant issued by Multnomah County, Oregon, for his actions at an Aug. 22, 2021 Proud Boys protest in Portland.
He was arrested Dec. 29 in his hometown of Vancouver, Washington, located across the Columbia River from Portland, on the secret warrant issued by a judge out of concern that Toese might be a flight risk; he was later transferred to Thurston County for detention there. He’s charged with three counts of second-degree assault, two counts of third-degree assault, two counts of unlawful use of a weapon, two counts of riot, and two counts of criminal mischief.
Toese is being held in Thurston County because he already faces charges there of obstructing a police officer, second-degree criminal trespassing, and third-degree assault stemming from his participation in the Jan. 5, 2021 attack on the Washington governor’s mansion by a group of far-right activists. The Oregonian reports that he will have to be extradited to Oregon to face the charges in the Portland violence.
In addition to being a central organizer for the Proud Boys’ Aug. 22 “Summer of Love” protest—originally scheduled for downtown Portland, then moved to a vacant K-mart parking lot on the periphery of the city—Toese also spoke to the gathering, recommending violence against transgender people.
“If you wanna, you know, go into female bathrooms, then stop lying and identifying yourself as a woman,” he said. “You know, tell the truth. Just say you identify as a pervert. Why lie? Tell the truth. But guess what? If you wanna identify as a woman and go in there, I’m gonna follow you in there as a woman, too. Then I’ll whoop your ass. Because I’m not playing this Democrat game.”
Numerous videos taken at the event also showed Toese shooting a paintball gun at anti-fascist protesters, leading the attack on a man in a parked truck, and leading a group of Proud Boys as they tipped over an empty van suspected of being “antifa.”
In another video after the violence, he condemned Portland police for failing to show up to protect him and others from counterprotests.
The violence erupted when a phalanx of black-clad anti-fascists marched past the parking lot where the rally was being held, and a cluster of Proud Boys began chasing them. A van involved in the situation came to a halt at the edge of the parking lot, and its occupants also were chased down Sandy Boulevard.
A series of roving street battles followed, featuring sticks, batons, baseball bats, paintball and Airsoft guns, and wafting clouds of bear mace accompanied by bursts of fireworks. Participants on both sides carried large shields.
Some Proud Boys returned to the abandoned van—a Metro ambulance van designed to carry people with disabilities—and proceeded, at Toese’s urging, to break out its windows, then tip it over and destroy the equipment inside.
They also caught up to an anti-fascist at his parked pickup truck, which appeared to be carrying water supplied for the counterprotesters. With Toese again urging them on while breaking the car’s windows, they slashed the man’s tires and sprayed him with mace, after which one Proud Boy with fighting gloves entered the cab and began beating the man. The man eventually was able to get out of the truck and flee the scene.
A couple of weeks later in Olympia, Toese was shot in the leg while hunting anti-fascists in the city’s downtown as part of an anti-vaccination protest that began at the state Capitol. He has never faced charges in that incident.
As Rolling Stone’s Tim Dickinson noted, Thurston County officials have been remarkably unhelpful in providing information to journalists in this case.
Neither the Thurston County prosecutor nor clerk responded to requests for Toese’s charging documents. The jail offers only sparse details, saying Toese was first arrested in a different jurisdiction: “He was brought in from another facility,” says Ken Rhoades, corrections technician with Thurston County. “I don’t know from what facility.”
Daily Kos experienced similar difficulties in obtaining the records.