Oregon Army National Guard soldiers set up a temporary medical facility at the Oregon State Fairgrounds in Salem on Thursday, March 19, 2020 (Courtesy Zachary Holden/Oregon National Guard)
Oregon State Police may deploy members of the Oregon Army National Guard to respond to potential protests at the state Capitol.
OSP Superintendent Terri Davie announced the activation Wednesday in a news release.
“The Oregon State Police will continue to take a neutral role in ensuring Oregonians exercise their First Amendment rights,” Davie said. “For the past seven months, your Troopers have responded throughout Oregon to various protests, unlawful assemblies and riots. Our goals have always been to protect people, protect people’s rights and to protect property. The recent events at our Nation's Capitol building and at our own statehouse illustrate the need for law enforcement to be prepared and appropriately staffed for any large gatherings."
The announcement comes one day after Salem City Councilor Vanessa Nordyke urged city leaders to request National Guard presence. Earlier this week, the FBI issued a memo to local law enforcement agencies across the U.S. warning of potential armed protests and violence in the days leading up to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on Jan. 20.
The Oregon Capitol has been the site of multiple violent demonstrations in recent months, including a Dec. 21 protest where armed members of far-right militia groups attempted to break into the building and maced police officers.
State police said in the announcement they would not discuss specific threats or tactical plans publicly or say where National Guard members are being deployed.