Protesters clash at 'stop the steal' rally at Oregon Capitol
The results are in — but the backlash may have only begun.
Electoral overtime ended just after 8 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 7, spurring some Portlanders to dance in the streets at the prospect of a Biden presidency. But at the State Capitol in Salem, several hundred Oregon Republicans gathered for a "stop the steal" rally that deemed the results illegitimate.
Ty Jones held a placard with pictures of former Vice President and now President-elect Joe Biden superimposed over images of Swiper, a sticky-fingered character from the children's show "Dora the Explorer."
"What I would like to see, in my opinion: shred the ballots, destroy the mail-in ballot system, go back to the physically drop your ballot into a ballot box," said Jones. The Dallas resident said he supported outgoing President Donald Trump because "he can't be bought off — he has too much money."
A â€œstop the stealâ€ rally is being held in Salem at the Oregon State Capitol to protest the results of the election today pic.twitter.com/HVLot4I0qR— Zane Sparling (@PDXzane) November 7, 2020
Few counter-protesters arrived during the daylight hours, but those who did were quickly confronted. At least two people were pepper sprayed, including one green-hat observer from the Salem chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. A man slammed a passing car with a baseball bat, and several scuffles broke out between those with differing ideologies.
Oregon State Police officers on bikes attempted to place themselves between the warring sides, but did not appear to make any arrests. Many of the conservatives carried long rifles and handguns.
Michael Cross, the Republican candidate for Oregon Attorney General who was defeated this year, said he had organized the rally. Jo Rae Perkins, who unsuccessfully challenged U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, said she plans to run again as soon as 2022.
"Thank god, literally, that Amy Coney Barrett is now Justice Barrett" of the Supreme Court, Perkins said, referring to a Trump appointee.
Rumors of voter fraud or other malfeasance have flown far faster this election cycle than fact checkers can stomp them out, but many allegations have already been quashed. Claims of dead voters in Michigan, for instance, were debunked by a a New York Times investigation that found simple database errors, such as incorrectly listed birth dates, or living voters with the same name as deceased persons.
Oregon had its own scare after 4chan users falsely claimed that Oregon's Secretary of State website includes a hackable "online voting system." In reality, there is no way to vote electronically in Oregon.
Not everyone is convinced, however.
"If Biden wins, hey, I'll support him — if he's elected fairly and I don't think we've had a fair election right now," said a 76-year-old Eugene resident who declined to give his name. "I have ancestors who came across in the covered wagons ... they'd be coming up out of their graves."
Spatters of rain put a damper on the event, with the right-wing crowd dwindling as night fell. Meanwhile, several hundred left-wing protesters gathered less than a mile away at Pringle Park before marching toward the Capitol rotunda. Salem Police clad in riot gear blocked streets until the crowd moved back onto the sidewalk, and later the police used their bodies as barricades to keep the two groups separated.
Officers pushed the crowd back after someone slashed the tire of a conservative rallygoer's truck, and the dispersal resulted in arrests. Oregon State Police later announced a total of four arrests on charges including fourth-degree assault, disorderly conduct, offensive littering, interfering with police and unlawful possession of a gun.
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