Salem, Oregon – A special session of the Oregon legislature has convened It was disrupted on Monday by the protesters Who appeared to oppose policies designed to slow the spread of the Coronavirus.
Protesters smashed glass doors in the largely empty Capitol, tore up fabrics from the marbled reliefs on the front steps and engaged in a brief confrontation with Oregon Police and Salem Police Department officers.
Police arrested at least two people during the six-hour march that included more than 100 protesters, including members of the far-right Patriot Prayer group.
“We are defending our constitutional rights to be here at this legislative hearing, and for our rights to reopen Oregon,” said Crystal Wagner. “Why do they hold a legislative hearing without the people? We the people, we taxpayers. We are here to fight for our democracy.”
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Apart from the dozens of police officers, some employees and journalists were the only ones allowed into the building on Monday.
At around 8:30 AM, Oregon State Police said protesters entered the Capitol and used at least one “chemical agent” against the officers. OSP soldiers responded with an inactive pepper reel, although it is unclear how many were fired.
The illegal gathering was announced around 9:20 a.m.
“At one point we used pepper balls. Lt. Triven Abkiss of Salem Police said,” I don’t know what else. When people tried to get into the building, they used pepper spray and other things on the officers. In turn, we used these to separate ourselves and get them to hold onto this spot. So I don’t know what was used, but I know at least the pepper ball was used. ”
He added, “There may have been other chemical munitions that the crowd also used on us that appeared to behave similarly … to CS gas.”
Just before 11 a.m., a few protesters opened the walled fence surrounding the steps of the Capitol and began removing the tarpaulin covering the two marbled inscriptions that had been defaced during the first week of protests this summer.
About two and a half hours later, a group of protesters smashed glass doors on the western edge of the Capitol building as they tried to enter the building.
As protesters gathered at the doors, a photographer for USA Today’s Statesman Journal was repeatedly staged by a group of protesters. The photographer was taking photos of protesters rolling through glass doors.
Soon after, there was a brief confrontation between protesters and police department officers in SWAT equipment at a nearby intersection.
One of the demonstrators told the officers, “Do the right thing.” “You can stand with us.”
Inside the Capitol, state Senator Shimea Fagan of Portland, who will be sworn in as Secretary of State in January, passed through the hall a short distance from where the protesters were facing the police.
“It’s annoying,” said Fagan. “It just doesn’t look normal. It really feels sad.”
The Oregon legislature met on Monday to consider extending the state’s emergency eviction moratorium and providing funds for tenants and landlords amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.