A group of armed protesters tried to gain entrance into the Oregon State Capitol building on Monday as the legislature was in session to debate COVID-19 regulations and public assistance.
Deadline reports that due to COVID precautions, the only people allowed in the building were Salem Police Department officers, state police, lawmakers, some staff, and reporters. Over 100 protesters—who seemed to oppose some policies that would curb the spread of the virus—stormed the building, breaking glass doors and windows, ripping tarps from the front steps, and even engaging in a short standoff with police. Some members of Patriot Prayer, a far-right, Washington-based group, also joined in the demonstration.
According to the Statesman Journal, state police arrested four protesters during the six-hour rally, and are still searching for a man who tried to break into the building and attacked two reporters.
Outfitted in flak jackets, military helmets, and guns, some of the protesters entered the building at around 8:30 a.m., with Salem PD saying “at least one of the protesters used chemical agents on the police…OSP [Oregon State Police] used inert pepper ball, while dealing with these protestors.”
A couple of hours later, when officers attempted to push the group out of the building, “another individual used bear spray against police officers,” according to an OSP statement. “He was arrested on multiple charges including trespassing and assaulting a police officer.”
Later, the demonstrators tried again to gain entry into the building, but officers fended them off.