Gun drawn as left-, right-wing groups clash at Oregon Capitol
Cherry blossoms and riot cops set the scene for another heated political confrontation between opposing bands at the Oregon State Capitol on Sunday, March 28.
Salem Police Department officers wielding batons and Oregon State Troopers clad in camo declared an unlawful assembly after several hundred left-wing protesters gathered in the shadow of the Capitol rotunda and then began skirmishing with perhaps a dozen conservatives that had traveled by car from a gathering spot in Sandy.
Police eventually shut down traffic on Court Street Northeast where it passes the Capitol building after the protesters dressed in black smashed the windows of several passing trucks draped with large flags espousing right-wing causes. The car caravaners who exited their vehicles often felt the taste of pepper spray.
A window is broken during a protest at the Oregon State Capitol today pic.twitter.com/Y34mwLj9lU— Zane Sparling (@PDXzane) March 28, 2021
After police pushed protesters onto the Capitol lawn the group marched into town, where another man in an American flag-themed car had his brake lights and window smashed after he pulled over; suddenly the man pulled out a pistol and pointed it at the assembled crowd — then threw himself on the ground as police moved in and detained him.
At least two left-wing protesters were detained as well, and the Tribune witnessed smoke bombs, paintball guns, flagpoles, thrown projectiles and other weapons being used as the clash escalated. Exact information on arrests and charges was not immediately released.
No massive caravan
A heavy rain began to fall and the crowd gradually dispersed. Throughout the day, Salem police using an amplified sound truck implored the groups to "please return to your cars and go home." Officers fired impact munitions at least once.
While fears of a massive caravan of Proud Boys largely failed to materialize, several in the left-wing group said they were there to fight against racism, white supremacy and oppression.
"I'm Black, so I've experienced plenty of racism downtown since I've lived here. I think it's important to show people that it's not right to treat people awfully because of their skin tone. I don't deserve it — no one deserves it," said one protester, asking that her name not be published.
A man wearing a devil mask and carrying a medieval metal shield said members of his family had died in the Holocaust and another "on the beaches" during WWII.
"I'm Jewish, so I'm from a long line of fighting fascism," he said. "It just comes down to taking a stand."
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