Right-wing and left-wing demonstrators faced off at the Oregon State Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, shortly before an unlawful assembly was declared. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)
As supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, Oregon’s Capitol saw its own share of trouble during a demonstration supporting the effort to overturn the election.
A chaotic scene erupted Wednesday afternoon with demonstrators throwing smoke canisters, fireworks and assaulting people.
It’s the most recent in a series of right-wing protests in Salem which have often become violent, with members of far-right groups including Patriot Prayer and the Proud Boys storming the Oregon Capitol, assaulting police and instigating fights.
Wednesday’s protest started out peacefully in the morning, with the crowd voicing their support for a group of rioters who had stormed into United States Capitol as Congress was certifying election results. Federal lawmakers had to be evacuated from the building.
Similar events took place in state capitols around the U.S., with news reports describing violence in several states.
Standing in the rain, Graciela Cargni with Oregon Women for Trump spoke about her grandfather escaping the Castro regime in Cuba.
She said she was a Latina in support of Trump and that Americans needed to continue fighting against communism.
Other speakers urged eventgoers to bring more “patriots” with them at future events.
State Sen. Dallas Heard, R-Roseburg, 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.
The crowd had a moment of silence for any rioters who might have been injured storming the nation’s Capitol Wednesday.
“This is legendary. This is part of history guys,” one Trump supporter told the crowd.
A 17-year-old from southern Oregon said the government was telling citizens what to do when the state required mask mandates and shuttered businesses and gyms.
Just before 2 p.m. a smaller group of left-wing marchers arrived at the Capitol and the two sides yelled at each other from opposite sides of the street.
The scene quickly became chaotic as the groups converged. Trump supporters fired paintballs into the crowd, while some on the opposing side threw smoke canisters.
People in the crowd also sprayed pepper spray and launched off fireworks.
Oregon State Police filed out of the Capitol building and formed a line with Salem police on State Street and Winter Street.
OSP made one arrest. David Charles Willis II, 43, of Lincoln City, is accused of harassment and disorderly conduct.
Salem police declared an unlawful assembly around 2:10 p.m. and the crowd eventually dispersed.
Have a tip? Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250, [email protected]
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