LIVE UPDATES: Salem protests devolve into chaos, one arrested

Protesters in Salem gather at the Oregon Capitol to protest the certification of Electoral College results for the 2020 presidential election on Jan. 6, 2021 (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Update, 2:23 p.m.

The scene at the Oregon Capitol rapidly devolved into chaos around 2 p.m. as opposing groups converged and Oregon State Police declared the gathering an unlawful assembly.

Left-wing demonstrators marched to the Capitol, meeting hundreds of right-wing demonstrators who had gathered in support of an effort to overturn U.S. presidential election results.

Police arrested one person on suspicion of harassment and disorderly conduct, Oregon State Police said on Twitter, but did not provide further detail.

Salem police have closed portions of State Street and Court Street near the Capitol and are urging people to avoid the area.

(Video by Saphara Harrell/Salem Reporter)

Update, 1:59 p.m.

Hundreds of protesters at the Oregon Capitol cheered an insurrection as a mob forced its way into the U.S. Congress

“This is legendary. This is part of history, guys,” one speaker told the crowd.

The crowd gathered in the rain to listen to speeches and held a moment of silence for the rioters injured in the effort to storm the U.S. Capitol.

Though they voiced support for the riot, the mood was more subdued than at some recent protests in Salem, including on Dec. 21 when armed far-right demonstrators pushed their way into the Oregon Capitol, kicked in a door and bear maced several state police officers.

Around noon, state Sen. Dallas Heard, R-Roseberg, addressed the crowd, saying the Oregon Capitol was being “occupied” by elitists and encouraging them to stand up for their rights, according to video from Oregon Public Broadcasting.

“I work with these fools. None of them are half as good as any of you and you need to bring the power to them!” Heard told the crowd, which erupted in cheers.

Original story, 11:54 a.m.

Protesters gathered in Salem’s Capitol Mall Wednesday morning as part of a nationwide effort to convince Congress to throw out the results of the 2020 election. 

While protests in Washington D.C. has erupted into violence. Salem has remained peaceful. 

Around mid-morning, roughly 100 people gathered outside Oregon’s Capitol building. The crowd held American or Gadsden flags. Others carried signs with slogans such as “Stolen election = treason,” or long rifles. The mostly maskless crowd, many decked out in camouflage or red “Make America Great Again” hats, chatted with each other. Some had children in tow.

Others watched television under a tarp that broadcast proceedings from Congress, which has gathered in a joint session to certify the 2020 election results. 

As a congressman took the House floor urging the chamber to confirm the election results, the crowd in Salem jeered. 

Normally a constitutional formality, dozens of Republican House members and at least 12 senators have objected to certifying the election because of what they say is widespread voter fraud. Numerous courts have rejected lawsuits intended to throw out votes and President Donald Trump’s attorney general has said there is no evidence that there was wide-scale irregularities. 

Although efforts by members of Congress are not expected to succeed, the U.S. Capitol has been put under lockdown because of demonstrators attempting to storm the building. Confrontational demonstrations have erupted elsewhere in the city. 

While Oregon state government buildings have been closed to staff and the public as a safety precaution, the protest in Salem has been peaceful with no reports of violence or other disturbances. 

Saphara Harrell contributed reporting.

Contact reporter Jake Thomas at 503-575-1251 or [email protected] or @jakethomas2009.

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