Assault charges filed after attack at Artifacts Gallery protest (Updated)

Misdemeanor criminal charges for assault have been filed against an Athens resident for what was described as a sudden physical attack during a protest outside Artifacts Gallery on Court Street Saturday.

Updated with quotes from Stephan Weaver and Clay Lewis, to clarify Gabriella Wolman’s employment and with information from the Athens Police Department

ATHENS, Ohio — Misdemeanor criminal charges for assault have been filed against an Athens resident for what was described by the victim as a sudden physical attack during a protest outside Artifacts Gallery, 2 W. State St., on Court Street Saturday.

The protest came after Artifacts owner Amy Mangano made several statements and posted signs in her shop windows that object to trans people — in particular trans women — gaining more rights and visibility. Several statements have been attributed to Mangano labeling trans women as “predatory.” Many of her Twitter interactions are with accounts that claim trans women are “grooming” children, a common right-wing conspiracy theory.


The protest was also prompted by allegations from some gender-nonconforming Athens residents that Mangano had profiled and falsely accused them of shoplifting. It was the first demonstration held to protest the business; the Athens Messenger reported in May 2022 protests were planned for that month, but they never came to fruition.

Protesters outside Artifacts Gallery on Saturday, Jan. 21 (Photo by Keri Johnson, Athens County Independent)

Clay Lewis, an Ohio University undergraduate student in chemistry who took part in the protest, said that a man and a woman came out of Artifacts during the protest and began exchanging words with him.

According to Lewis, the woman suddenly began kicking Lewis in the shin, and other protesters flooded the scene. Lewis called police and the attackers fled in a car, they said. The man with her allegedly pushed and made threatening comments, Lewis told the Independent, but never “threw any punches or anything.”

On Monday, the Athens Police Department filed a criminal summons for the attack in Athens County Municipal Court against Gabriella L. Wolman, whose listed address in the police report is that of a local dog training company. The company’s website lists a “Gabriella W.” as its “Kennel Manager/Trainer in Training.”

A man who identified himself as Wolman’s husband, but refused to provide his name, answered the listed number for the business on Monday evening. Athens County marriage records show that Wolman married a Stephan Weaver on Dec. 5 of last year; a Stephan Weaver is listed as a kennel assistant on the training company’s staff page. Wolman and Weaver both listed the company’s address as their home address in the marriage records.

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In a message to the Independent, the owner of the dog training company said that Wolman has not worked for the business since Dec. 2, 2022. “We have nothing to do with what happened at Artifacts,” she wrote.

Weaver identified himself as the man accompanying Colman on Saturday. He claimed to the Independent that Lewis was inciting him and Wolman to violence by “blowing a pterodactyl noise” into Artifacts. Weaver said that he went outside to ask Lewis to stop, at which point Weaver claims Lewis told Wolman, “Suck my dick.” Weaver said that Wolman “kicked [Lewis] in the foot,” not the shin, as Lewis claims and as is written in the criminal complaint. A photo of the alleged injury provided by Lewis appears to depict his shin, not his foot.

Images provided by Clay Lewis

The real issue, according to Weaver, was when Lewis followed the couple down the street while calling the police. “I have to literally physically restrain this very large body building gentleman,” Weaver said, at another point identifying Lewis as 30 to 40 (he is 20). “He’s released a video where a large mob of people are chasing me and my wife down the street,” Weaver said. 

A video Lewis shared with the Independent appears to show Lewis and two or three other people following Weaver and Wolman to their car. The video was taken from a perspective that doesn’t show if Wolman kicked Lewis.

Weaver said that Lewis has begun “harassing” and “stalking” Wolman; he said the couple plans to file a restraining order or order of protection against Lewis. Weaver said that Lewis’s activities include calling Wolman’s work and home phone numbers and asking after her, which Weaver described as “witness tampering.”

“The nature of this man and this protest was violent and non-peaceful, and, like, shocker that it ended this way. I don’t know what his motives are, but his whole behavior out there was very unacceptable,” Weaver said. “None of the other protesters were acting anything like this man.”

When asked about the subject of the protests, Weaver said that he and Wolman believe “everyone is entitled to be happy and live a good life and not be bashed for it on any side.”

Lewis, who is also a University Life Commissioner with the OU Student Senate but was at the protest in a personal capacity, said that they regularly go to protests around campus and Athens and have never been assaulted or witnessed an assault.

When asked about Weaver’s claims, Lewis said in a text message that while “Suck my dick” was not a wise choice in words, they were not intended to incite violence. Before Weaver and Wolman left the store, Lewis said, “they were banging on windows, attempting to intimidate [protesters], and overall creating a negative environment.”

Lewis denied harassing or stalking Wolman, but was “following leads to present business[es] with” and that threats of a restraining order are “clearly an attempt to make me out to be a criminal.” They denied being violent at the protest.

“Almost the entirety of the protest I had a smile on my face and stood in one place with my hands behind my back,” they wrote. For most of the protest, they said, they were holding a speaker making what Weaver described as a “pterodactyl sound” — Lewis said that it’s “a screaming sheep” intended “not to intimidate but deter any counter protesters.”

Lewis intends to see the charges through, and said that police decided to pursue charges only against Wolman and not Weaver.

APD Officer Joe McGrew, who handled the call, said Wednesday that Weaver could have potentially been charged with disorderly contact for pushing Lewis — but in that case, he would have also had to charge multiple other protesters for being involved in the scuffle.

Police also received a call on Saturday from Mangano, the Artifacts owner, alleging that protesters were “making customers feel scared enough where they don’t want to leave the business.”

If convicted, Wolman faces up to six months in jail and $1,000 in fines.

A hearing is scheduled in Wolman’s case for 9 a.m. Feb. 2 at the Athens County Municipal Court in the Athens City Building, 8 E. Washington St., 2nd fl., Athens.

Additional reporting by Keri Johnson.

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