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Republican convention gun petition author is from Spokane, has legal history with online postings

The man who petitioned unsuccessfully to allow guns at the Republican National Convention is indeed from Spokane.

And that author, Jim Ryan, is currently involved in a defamation lawsuit with the former executive artistic director of the Spokane Civic Theatre.

Ryan called The Spokesman-Review on Wednesday, after his full name was published by national news outlets, to apologize for lying about where he lived. On Tuesday, Ryan – who identified himself only by his first name out of stated fear of retaliation for the petition – said he lived “well south” of Spokane.

On Wednesday, Ryan said he was still concerned about the safety of his family but had no remorse for posting the petition online, which as of Wednesday afternoon had more than 52,000 signees. Ryan said he was trying to make a point that Republicans were being hypocritical by supporting laws allowing gun carrying in some places, but are uneasy about having guns at their convention.

“The traction that it got speaks to the power of the point I was trying to make,” Ryan said Wednesday. “I certainly didn’t expect Donald Trump to get asked about it on Sunday.”

The Secret Service said earlier this week no guns would be allowed in the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, where the GOP will officially select its presidential nominee in July.

Ryan used the moniker “The Hyperationalist” when posting the petition, and said it was a glitch in change.org’s website that showed “Len Davies of Spokane, Washington” as the original author of the petition. Ryan, who phoned the newsroom using a Philadelphia cellphone number, said he never intended for the petition to be traced back to him and Len Davies was a name he used in musical performances years ago.

“I’m just a guy,” he said. “Who I am is irrelevant.”

Ryan used a similar pseudonym to create the blog “Civic Doody,” which criticized the practices of then-Civic Theatre artistic director Yvonne A.K. Johnson. He wrote under the pen name “The Fanatical Rationalist” on that blog, which was last active in July 2015.

Johnson sued Ryan for defamation. The case is scheduled to go to trial in November, after a state appeals court ordered last year it should be heard by a jury. The Washington Supreme Court declined to review the appellate court ruling.

Ryan said he is “overwhelmed” by the attention he’s received as a result of the petition. He’s been interviewed by Newsweek, Rolling Stone and the Hill – declining to give his full name to those publications, too – in addition to The Spokesman-Review. He said he lied about where he lived in an interview Tuesday because he didn’t think it would wind up in print.

“I consider myself as straight a shooter as they come,” Ryan said.


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