On Jan. 6, 2021, many Americans were glued to their screens, watching thousands of people attempt an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol as Congress certified the 2020 presidential election.
A smaller group of people almost staged a similar insurrection in Eugene. But the potential rioters couldn’t find Eugene’s City Hall, which was torn down in 2014 and never replaced.
According to the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, a group of angry Trump supporters tried to invade Eugene’s City Hall to “stop the steal” by throwing out local votes going to then President-elect Joe Biden.
“According to text messages obtained by Congress, Eugene avoided tragedy because these would-be thugs didn’t know the city doesn’t have a City Hall,” says Rep. Peter DeFazio after learning about the information from the committee. He also pointed out the would-be rioters didn’t realize votes are actually counted at the Lane County Elections office.
When the Jan. 6 insurrection happened, DeFazio carried bear mace with him as he traveled to his office, so he says when he retires, he’s going to offer city staff courses on surviving a right-wing insurrection. “Here are the basics for surviving: aim for the face, kick ‘em in the groin and run,” he adds.
DeFazio said that according to the report, because of Eugene’s quirky population, the members of the would-be Eugene insurrection appeared more like the horned headdress-wearing “QAnon shaman” from Jan. 6 rather than the militant Proud Boys.
Prevalent among the misfit group of Eugeneans trying to throw out Biden’s votes in an attempt to give Trump Oregon’s five electoral votes were locals afraid of change. They included anti-vaxxers who think people should have the right to choose, abortion opponents who say people shouldn’t have the right to choose, and old Deadheads whose long acid trips have worn out and leading them to realize they were conservative all along.
Days after learning about the Eugene attempted insurrection, Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis said she will encourage the City Council to establish a committee to explore hosting an event where local Eugeneans can gather and share their newfound concerns over the news. “I hear you, and I see you,” Vinis added.
Former Eugene City Manager Jon Ruiz, who’s faced criticism in the past for his handling of the City Hall saga, came out of retirement to make a statement, telling EW that he now feels vindicated for likely saving Eugene from a city hall insurrection. “Some councilors criticized me for how I led the City Hall project,” he says. “But I feel like in reality, I may have single-handedly saved this town from a political crisis.”
Ruiz suggests that future rioters note that, as a cost-saving measure, Eugene is basically using the downtown Lane Community College campus as its city hall.
Jumping on his mountain bike, he adds, “You’re welcome, Eugene.”