Inauguration Day Extremist Threat Mostly Fizzles in Oregon as Biden Administration Takes Power

Some anarchist protesters smashed windows of the Democratic Party of Oregon headquarters in Northeast Portland.

Damage to Democratic Party of Oregon offices on Jan. 20, 2021. (Chris Nesseth)

Oregon saw a largely peaceful transfer of power on Inauguration Day, with the only civil unrest before nightfall coming in the form of about a hundred masked anarchists and other leftist protesters smashing windows in Portland.

Two weeks after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, and about a month after right-wing protesters breached the state Capitol in Salem, law enforcement across Oregon had prepared for possible chaos on Wednesday. The Oregon Legislature delayed the start of its session, fearing it would be disrupted by armed demonstrators, while Portland city officials warned property owners to hide dumpsters so they wouldn't be used for bonfires.

But as President Joe Biden took office Wednesday, the fears of civil unrest largely fizzled.

In Salem, where the first-story windows of the state Capitol were boarded over, the only people outside the building during the hour when Biden was sworn in were members of the press and a woman praying over a candle. Such was the trend at other statehouses nationwide.

A leftist march through Portland on Jan. 20, 2021. (Chris Nesseth)

In Portland, about 100 anarchist protesters dressed in black bloc marched in the late afternoon to the Democratic Party of Oregon headquarters near Northeast Davis Street. They carried banners reading "We are ungovernable" and "We don't want Biden—we want revenge!"

The march was organized by the Pacific Northwest Youth Liberation Front, a hardline leftist group that calls for abolishing police departments and removing the current U.S. government.

Some of the marchers tagged the walls of the Democratic Party of Oregon headquarters and smashed several windows.

A leftist march through Portland on Jan. 20, 2021. (Chris Nesseth)

The party expressed frustration at the damage. "We're thankful that none of our staff were in the building at the time," party spokesman Tim McCann said. "This is not the first time our building has been vandalized during the past year—none of the prior incidents have deterred us from our important work to elect Democrats up and down the ballot, and this one will be no different."

That vandalism, while significant because of its political target, was not on a scale anywhere near what Portland regularly saw this fall—or what law enforcement had braced for.

Yesterday, on Jan. 19, Portland Police Bureau Chief Chuck Lovell had stated that the bureau canceled days off for all sworn members in order to beef up staffing for Wednesday. Dozens of PPB officers—many on bicycles—were scattered throughout Buckman and neighboring portions of Northeast.

Police reportedly removed the wooden handles affixed to a protester's sign, according to Portland Tribune reporter Zane Sparling.

KATU-TV, which is WW's news partner, reported that helicopter footage showed police detaining at least two protesters during a scuffle near Buckman Park Field.

The Portland Police Bureau announced Wednesday evening that officers had made eight arrests during the afternoon. Six of the people booked into Multnomah County Jail were charged with criminal mischief.

After dusk, about 150 protesters of federal immigration policy marched to the headquarters of Immigration and Customs Enforcement on the South Waterfront, where they were met by federal police who deployed tear gas and pepper balls, according to several reports. As The New York Times noted, those federal agents now report to President Biden.

Portland police arrest a protester on Jan. 20, 2021. (Chris Nesseth)

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