Far right demonstrators attack a photojournalist during a protest at the Oregon State Capitol Monday. (Saphara Harrell/Salem Reporter)
A supporter of far-right group Patriot Prayer is facing several felony charges related to a protest at the Oregon Capitol on Dec. 21, where demonstrators pushed their way into the closed building and kicked in a door to protest Covid restrictions.
Chandler Preston Alexander Pappas, 27, of Portland, is accused of pepper spraying six police officers at the Oregon State Capitol during the event, according to an affidavit justifying his arrest filed in Marion County Circuit Court on Jan. 4.
Pappas was arrested Monday and is charged with six counts of assaulting a public safety officer, first-degree burglary and riot. Assaulting an officer is a Class C felony that carries a maximum of five years in prison.
He was arraigned in Marion County Circuit Court on Tuesday, where a judge set his bail at $250,000 and classified him as a public safety risk. Salem attorney David Kuhns was appointed by the court to defend Pappas. A court hearing on an expected indictment was scheduled for Friday, Jan. 15.
He faces the stiffest charges so far of those arrested during demonstrations that have become more frequent in Salem and have resulted in assaults on many occasions. The affidavit describes Pappas assaulting officers, breaking through doors that were latched together with handcuffs, and inciting a group of 50 to violence.
Two others were charged with riot for the demonstration – Jeremy Wayne Roberts, 40, of Albany, and Jeremiah Pruitt, 35, of Salem. Roberts is scheduled to be arraigned on Jan. 7. Pruitt is scheduled to be arraigned on Jan. 20.
According to Oregon law, a person commits the crime of riot while participating with five or more people by engaging in "tumultuous and violent conduct and thereby intentionally or recklessly creates a grave risk of causing public harm."
South Salem High School newspaper The Clypian first reported Pappas’ arrest Tuesday.
On Dec. 21, Anthony Burke, a Salem police officer, was assigned to the mobile response unit when he was asked to keep protesters from breaching the doors on the west side of the Capitol, the affidavit said.
“As I moved up to remove the protesters from breaching the doors, I was almost immediately sprayed with pepper spray,” Burke wrote.
He noted that after reviewing GoPro footage, he saw it was Pappas who pepper sprayed him and five other officers.
Burke wrote that he couldn’t see for five minutes and experienced severe pain as a result.
After getting pepper sprayed, officers retreated inside the building. After they went inside, Pappas and 50 others entered a small room accessible from outside the Capitol, the affidavit said.
The protesters were told several times they were trespassing and needed to leave, the affidavit said.
Pappas stood on the opposite side of the door with an AR rifle, Burke wrote. The affidavit said a restraining order preventing Pappas from possessing firearms has been granted.
“The protesters all sang the National Anthem and then Chandler began kicking the doors, which were latched together by a pair of handcuffs,” Burke wrote.
He wrote that Pappas grabbed the handcuffed doors and began violently swinging them in an effort to open them. He was able to break the doors and handcuffs, Burke wrote.
Officers had to stand in the doorway, and an officer was hit by objects thrown by the 50-person crowd, the affidavit said.
“It was clear that Chandler was leading the crowd to engage in violent and riotous behavior against law enforcement officers keeping the protesters from entering the main concourse of the Capitol building,” Burke said.
Have a tip? Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250, [email protected]
WE GET SALEM THE FACTS. Covering your community with care and depth. Salem Reporter - fair, accurate, independent. Subscribe and support our essential local service.