Oregon National Guard Activated Ahead of Potential Unrest at State Capitol

The announcement lands exactly one week after a mob of Trump loyalists stormed the U.S. Capitol.

Proud Boys outside the Oregon Capitol on Jan. 6. (Justin Yau)

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown activated the Oregon National Guard to assist the Oregon State Police in upcoming instances of civil unrest at the state Capitol, OSP announced Jan. 13.

The announcement lands exactly one week after a mob of pro-Trump loyalists stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and attempted a coup while legislators certified Electoral College vote results. The insurrection has left five dead and dozens injured.

That same day, a smaller gathering occurred at the state Capitol in Salem, including a 39-year-old man named Cody Melby who was arrested for trespassing on the property with a firearm. Melby was later arrested in Portland after he allegedly fired shots at the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse in downtown Portland. He now faces state and federal charges.

Separately, at a different pro-Trump rally in Salem last month, a mob attempted to storm the state Capitol after Rep. Mike Nearman (R-Independence) let them into the building while lawmakers were inside during a special session. (House Speaker Tina Kotek this week stripped Nearman of committee assignments and urged him to resign. He has refused.)

As the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden approaches, Trump loyalists are expected to gather at capitols in all 50 states on Jan. 20. Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney has said lawmakers have received credible threats of violence at the Capitol.

The Oregon National Guard will be deployed "as necessary," according to a press release issued Jan. 13, and it will not reveal its deployment locations to the public.

"The Oregon State Police will continue to take a neutral role in ensuring Oregonians exercise their First Amendment rights," said OSP Superintendent Terri Davie. "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," Davie added.

Update, 5:06 pm: Timber Unity, the grassroots conservative group that has regularly protested against Democratic Party policies at the Oregon Capitol, issued a statement Wednesday afternoon that it would not participate in any rallies on Jan. 20.

"We believe strongly in the right to peaceably protest and demonstrate, but we also think there are other avenues to address our issues," the organization wrote on its Facebook page. "We are currently exploring lawful ways to get the capitol reopened, through the courts if need be."

The statement follows a WW report last week that a Timber Unity spokeswoman, Angelita Sanchez, attended the Jan. 6 rally in Washington, D.C. that culminated in a mob storming the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying election results.

"We reject destruction and violence at our places of government, no matter who is engaged in it or what their political rationale is," the statement continued. "We realize people in TU belong to other groups whose purpose is different than ours. We hope people who choose to attend the events of other organizations are mindful of personal safety and the safety of others, follow the laws, and are respectful of law enforcement."

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.