One arrested at Oregon Capitol, but building was not breached
Pro-Trump protesters at the Capitol in Salem echoed their national counterparts Wednesday, but unlike them, the Oregon protesters did not breach the building.
Oregon State Police reported that a fight broke out Wednesday afternoon between them and counter-protesters who arrived later. State troopers, Marion County sheriff's deputies and Salem Police were on the scene.
"Law enforcement members quickly separated the two groups and worked to keep the two groups separate for the remainder of the day," OSP Capt. Timothy Fox said in a statement.
David Willis, 43, of Lincoln City was arrested and charged with harassment and disorderly conduct.
Between 100 and 200 people gathered for a rally across the street from the Oregon Capitol, where they heard the amplified voice of President Donald Trump restate false claims about the Nov. 3 election results. Trump spoke during a rally on The Ellipse just south of the White House, where he encouraged followers to march on the Capitol in Washington, D.C.
A violent mob then breached the U.S. Capitol, which was conducting a joint session to certify the election of Democrats Joe Biden as president and Kamala Harris as vice president.
No official activity was scheduled inside the Oregon Capitol on Wednesday. Oregon electors already had cast the state's seven electoral votes for Biden and Harris on Dec. 8 during an in-person ceremony that was streamed live.
The Oregon Capitol has been closed to the public since March 18, after the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Police sealed off the building Wednesday after Capitol authorities, anticipating problems, decided Tuesday night to close the building to the few workers who remain.
Metal shutters covered the glass doors at the east and west entrances. They already were in place on the iconic revolving doors at the north entrance. About two dozen troopers were stationed at the south entrance, which faces Willamette University.
Wednesday's protest was not the first instance of trouble at the Capitol, which was built in 1938.
Anti-lockdown, pro-Trump supporters briefly occupied a vestibule on the northwest side of the building on Dec. 21, when state lawmakers met for a one-day special session. They were ejected, and police rebuffed their second attempt to force their way through the west entrance, although they broke windows on the doors. Five men were arrested, and Oregon State Police are seeking the identity of another man caught on camera.
Concrete barriers were placed in front of the Capitol on New Year's Eve. Salem Police arrested three people during New Year's Day protests, which extended to downtown and the governor's official residence at Mahonia Hall.
The building is run by the Legislative Administration Committee, which includes the top elected leaders. Security is provided by Oregon State Police.
The Oregon Legislature is scheduled to start its 2021 session on Monday, Jan. 11, with the swearing-in of all 60 representatives and 16 of the 30 senators, and the election of the House speaker and Senate president. The organizational session is expected to last a day.
Lawmakers get down to business on Jan. 19, when the clock starts on the 160-day session. Leaders have not specified how they will conduct the session during the coronavirus pandemic. But House Speaker Tina Kotek and Senate President Peter Courtney have said it will combine online meetings of committees — which lawmakers have been conducting for months — with in-person voting by members in their chambers.
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