Less than a week after their last clash, the state Capitol recorded another day of unrest as a gathering of self-styled patriot groups eventually broke down into street battles with police.
Salem Police Department officers made multiple arrests and declared an unlawful assembly around 4:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 1, after a group of protesters returned from a largely peaceful march to Mahonia Hall, the official residence of Oregon Gov. Kate Brown.
The event began peacefully around noon with several hundred people gathering for speeches across the street from the Capitol rotunda.
"Over in China they are laughing at us," said Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson. Referring to Brown and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Gibson added: "They all sold us out, that's an act of war."
Salem Police issued several stern warnings ahead of the Jan. 1 gathering, which followed a Dec. 26 protest during a special session of the Legislature that ended with a handful of arrests after some in the fray tried to force their way inside the Capitol building.
On Friday, Janira Brannigan, an organizer with Oregon Women for Trump, told the crowd she frequently travels without wearing a mask.
"It's time to open up our state to save lives," she said. "We've complied for nine months. According to the experts we should all be dead by now."
A Portland man in the crowd was selling hats suggesting that voting for Democrats would Make America ... less pleasant.
"This country is like a dog returning to its own vomit. We had four years of normalcy. The United States started to improve," he said in an interview. "The left is like a bunch of cultists. You can't even talk to them."
As rain began to fall, the crowd embarked on a soggy 30-minute tromp toward the governor's mansion on Lincoln Street, where they found the driveway blocked by state troopers in riot gear and clasping batons.
Some protesters sought to engage with the police, who remained silent, though one speaker said he could "see it in their eyes" that officers wanted to support their cause.
Protester shot with crowd control, â€œrobâ€ arrested pic.twitter.com/aQfKaZU3YM— Zane Sparling (@PDXzane) January 2, 2021
More speeches ensued, but when the crowd made the return trip they encountered a band of left-wing protesters who said they were guarding a local business. A shouting match prompted city police to separate the two groups; as the right-wing band was pushed back, officers appeared to fire pepper balls multiple times and deploy smoke canisters that were chucked back toward police lines by those in the crowd.
Many of those on the conservatives' side seemed shocked at the police behavior, with some even attempting to burn a "Blue Lives Matter" flag.
Cries of "Shame!" and "Cowards!" could be heard throughout the night, with one woman asking the officers, "How does it feel to be hated by patriots?"
Several arrests were made, but the crowd dispersed from the Capitol by 6 p.m.
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