Oregon Legislative Session on Hold Due to Security

After U.S. Capitol insurrection, to prepare for the worst Oregon Legislature cancels first two days, state representative says

Before President Donald Trump incited rally-goers of “Save Our America” to storm the U.S. Capitol, right-wingers tried to take the Oregon Capitol to protest Gov. Kate Brown’s COVID-19 social distancing measures on Dec. 21.

Surveillance footage obtained by OPB showed state Rep. Mike Nearman open the door for the protesters. That resulted in Salem lawmakers such as House Speaker Tina Kotek call for Nearman’s resignation.

Now State Rep. Marty Wilde tells Eugene Weekly that the Legislature has canceled the first two days of the session — Tuesday, Jan. 19, and Wednesday, Jan. 20 — because of security concerns related to Inauguration Day protests. The New York Times and other news outlets have reported that all 50 state capitols are on high alert.

“We cannot allow terroristic threats to stop the people’s business,” Wilde says in a statement. “My brothers and sisters in the National Guard are protecting the State Capitol. We should honor their courage by serving as we have sworn to do. If we have specific knowledge of a particular threat that makes that unsafe, we should not endanger their lives while protecting our own.”

Salem is also preparing for unrest by activating the National Guard. On Jan. 13, the Oregon State Police Superintendent Terri Davie said in a statement that she had requested the Oregon National Guard to assist with potential upcoming civil unrest. The governor approved the request.

“The Oregon State Police will continue to take a neutral role in ensuring Oregonians exercise their First Amendment rights,” Oregon State Police Superintendent Davie said in a statement. “For the past seven months, your Troopers have responded throughout Oregon to various protests, unlawful assemblies and riots.  Our goals have always been to protect people, protect people’s rights and to protect property. The recent events at our Nation’s Capitol building and at our own statehouse illustrate the need for law enforcement to be prepared and appropriately staffed for any large gatherings.”

Salem has experienced two recent right-wing protests at the Oregon Capitol recently . On Jan. 6, right-wing protesters organized a “Stop the Steal” rally. Journalists covering the event on Twitter reported that right-wingers in Salem were live-streaming the “Save Our America” rally and the storming of the U.S. Capitol.

During the clash, right-wing protesters shot paintballs at counter-protesters.

And on Dec. 21, right-wing protesters broke into the Oregon Capitol to protest the governor’s social distancing restrictions. During the protest, right-wingers kicked in a door to the Oregon Capitol and clashed with police.

Right-wing protesters also held a rally outside of the Capitol on New Year’s Day to demand the state allow businesses open.

The Oregon Legislature’s elected members were sworn in on Jan. 11.

This article has been updated