Armed Proud Boys, Patriot Prayer anti-lockdown protesters barge into Oregon Capitol amid Covid-19 relief talks
The demonstrators were pushed out by the police more than once after they tried to enter the building by force, condemning the lockdown
Oregon made headlines a number of times this summer, thanks to the outbreak of race riots, vandalism and pulling down statues of various leaders. On Monday, December 21, the situation in the state turned bad again as armed protesters, numbering around 300, stormed the state capitol while the state legislature was in session, in what was portrayed as a mission to ‘reopen’ Oregon. They engaged in vandalism as the lawmakers were debating fresh restrictions related to Covid-19 pandemic and other public assistance in terms of pandemic relief. The only people who were allowed inside the building were members of the Salem Police Department and the Oregon State Police besides staff members and reporters. Four were arrested, said reports.
The group of protesters, many of whom were wearing flak jackets, military helmets and carrying long guns, entered the capitol building around 8.30 am. Some were even seen carrying American flags and Donald Trump banners. Salem Police Department officials said at least one of the protesters even used chemical agents against the law-keeping personnel and Oregon State Police officials used inert pepper ball while combating the protesters, Deadline reported. In around two hours, the police personnel gathered to push the protesters out of the building, stating that the assembly was unlawful. Oregon police sources said it was then that an individual used bear spray against the cops and was arrested on multiple charges, including assaulting a police officer.
UPDATE @ 1140: Since approximately 0830 this morning, December 21, protestors assembled on the grounds of the @OregonCapitol. At about 0930 @ORStatePolice declared an unlawful assembly & made various audible announcements for dispersal to the crowd outside... 1/3 #salemoregon pic.twitter.com/z6ue0798d1— Salem Police Department (@SalemPoliceDept) December 21, 2020
The protesters came back later in the day and tried to enter the building again before the police pushed them out again. They also attacked a photo journalist working for Salem’s Statesman General. One was heard on video telling the photographer, “I’m gonna f**k you up,” as the journalist left.
Just before their violent physical assaults on journalists, the right wing extremists literally tried to kick in the door of the Oregon State Capitol in Salem.— Nick Knudsen 🇺🇸 (@NickKnudsenUS) December 21, 2020
Right wing thugs intimidated and threatened journalist @_Brian_ICT - for trying to cover their unlawful assembly at the Capitol in Salem, Oregon today.— Nick Knudsen 🇺🇸 (@NickKnudsenUS) December 21, 2020
They tried to storm the Capitol with pistols and rifles in protest of COVID-19 restrictions.
How it started pic.twitter.com/HyKbwmAphT— Laura Jedeed, Space Professional (@LauraJedeed) December 21, 2020
The crowd included members of far-right extremist groups such as Proud Boys, Patriot Prayer and others and they chanted “let us in” and “arrest Kate Brown” against the state’s governor. They also shouted: “We just want our rights back!” Videos showed the demonstrators voicing their anger against coronavirus lockdowns with one person shouting: “You’re having birthday parties while you shut us down!”
“I’m here to support the constitutional rights of people and of Oregon business owners. These people are unemployed and their lives are being ruined by this situation and most importantly by a government that seems to have taken totalitarian views,” The Daily Beast quoted one of the protesters as saying. More than 103,000 people have been affected by the virus in Oregon while more than 1,300 people have died.
Special session to discuss pandemic restriction and relief
Oregon Governor Kate Brown called for the special session where the lawmakers took up the issue of pandemic relief. They were discussing measures that would provide funding worth $800M for coronavirus measures and wildlife relief. The government considered an eviction moratorium with $200M in relief for landlords and tenants, a restaurant relief package and $600M being transferred from the state’s emergency fund for coronavirus and wildfire response. Issues such as allowing restaurants and bars to serve alcoholic drinks and a bill to protect schools from lawsuits were also being discussed.
The demonstrators, who temporarily chased off the troopers who later came in a heavier number to defend the legislature building, sought to set up an autonomous zone. "We are now declaring this area a patriot autonomous zone. If Antifa can do it so can we," the Beast cited one protester as saying.
Amid the chaos, some protesters also sold pro-Trump merchandise at a tent set up outside the Capitol including “Stop The Steal” sweaters. The tent also offered USA and Trump hats.
Brown, a Democrat, tweeted on December 21: “I'd like to thank legislators for coming together to deliver on critical bills, including extending the eviction moratorium, and a relief package to get resources to Oregonians who have been making incredible sacrifices to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
I'd like to thank legislators for coming together to deliver on critical bills, including extending the eviction moratorium, and a relief package to get resources to Oregonians who have been making incredible sacrifices to prevent the spread of COVID-19. https://t.co/w1zZZI4sW0— Governor Kate Brown (@OregonGovBrown) December 22, 2020
The meeting held on Monday was the third special session to take place since March.