Police: Man wields knife at Oregon Women for Trump rally
The Washington County Democrats have disavowed the actions of a former volunteer who police say brandished a knife during a heated confrontation at an Oregon Women for Trump car cruise in Hillsboro.
Sgt. Clint Chrz told Pamplin Media that Hillsboro officers arrested Clayton John Callahan, 52, on one count of unlawful use of a weapon following reports of an altercation at the intersection of Southeast 10th Avenue and Maple Street around 1:44 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 4.
"He confronted one of the Trump supporters — rallygoers — with a knife, and as a result of his actions he has been arrested," said Sgt. Chrz. "We didn't use any force to get him into custody."
Oregon Department of Corrections officials confirm that Callahan remains employed as a jailer at the Coffee Creek Correctional Institution in Wilsonville but will not be coming into work at the women's prison for now.
"He is currently stationed at home," said DOC spokeswoman Betty Bernt. "At this time, it's a local law enforcement issue, and depending on what happens there, it will be investigated by us as well."
Callahan posted $1,000 in bail and was released from the Washington County Jail on Sunday.
Video of the incident appears to show two men squaring off, their chests just inches apart: one fellow, with a tucked-in shirt and red face mask, points the tip of a dagger at the ground, holding the weapon at his side or behind his back — the other holds a cellphone close to his face.
"You can stab me," says the man with the phone, apparently part of the pro-Trump group.
"I'm not even threatening you," replies the man with the knife.
"C'mon man!" is the first man's incredulous rejoinder.
"I'm not allowed to hold my property?" says the man who police later identified as Callahan. "I got two knives ... Are knives illegal? Do I have a Second Amendment?"
"You have all the rights in the world," responds the Trump supporter.
The two continue arguing for another minute, then Callahan drives off.
Polk County Republican chair Janira Brannigan said she was driving at the head of the car caravan as it wound its way through Hillsboro and Beaverton.
Brannigan said Callahan pulled in front of her flag-festooned vehicle near Tualatin Valley Highway and remained at a stop after the light turned green. She said the incident escalated after her friend tried to snap a photo of Callahan's license plate and he pulled over and began making vulgar gestures.
"We're used to the middle fingers, the cussing, the yelling, but this was terrifying," Brannigan said in a phone interview. "To be a President Trump supporter is not against the law. It is not something that should be met with violence."
The incident quickly went viral on Facebook and Youtube, with users sussing out Callahan's involvement with the Washington County Democrats.
The group's first vice chair, Martita Meier, admitted that Callahan was a volunteer member of the organization, but denied reports that he served as "communications director." Meier said that Callahan never chaired a committee or held a leadership position within the organization, which is operated independently of the Democratic National Committee.
Blog posts that have since been removed described Callahan as part of a "communications team," but Meier said the title of "communications director" does not exist within the Washington County Democrats, where all members are volunteers who do not collect a salary.
"We have never asked or instructed any volunteers to interact with people in any escalated or aggressive fashion," she said. "We have documentation such as executive board minutes that can prove who would be something similar to the equivalent of a 'communications director,' though that title itself is not exist."
She continued: "The volunteer recused himself of all volunteer activities this weekend after the event."
In a self-published biography describing his interests as a science fiction author and board game designer, Callahan says he served in the U.S. Navy after attending high school and later joined the U.S. Army following 9/11.
"Between active duty deployments, he's worked as a deputy sheriff, a correctional officer and as a federal special agent for U.S. Army Counterintelligence (lots of great stories there, can't tell any of them)," according to the biography.
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