CORONAVIRUS, Oregon, politics

Protesters attempt to storm capitol during Oregon Legislature special session

The Oregon Capitol building in Salem. Photo: Chas Hundley

A special session of the Oregon Legislature anticipated to last one day is off to a rocky start Monday morning.

Oregon legislators have gathered to vote on bills that would provide relief to families affected by Oregon’s September wildfires, provide relief to renters and landlords, allow restaurants and bars to offer to-go cocktails, and shield schools and hospitals from some lawsuits related to COVID-19.

Shortly after the Oregon Senate opened their session at 8 a.m., Republican Senator Dallas Heard (R-Roseburg) took off his mask and accused Oregon’s Democratic Party lawmakers of engaging with Governor Kate Brown in a “campaign against the people and the children of God,” according to OPB reporter Dirk VanderHart, who is reporting from the capitol. 

Heard stormed out of Senate Chambers shortly after. 

Meanwhile, a protest began at the capitol doors with protesters demanding to be let inside the building, prompting a police response in the dozens from Salem Police and the Oregon State Police, who declared the protest an unlawful assembly. 

According to videos from the scene, some of the protesters were armed, and some of them deployed aerosol-based pepper spray type devices. At least two arrests appear to have been made as protesters tried to gain access to the building.

To view each bill in the House and Senate, visit the Oregon Legislative Information System here

To follow along with the day’s events, we’ve identified a number of reporters who are documenting the legislative proceedings and the protests in and out of the capitol on Twitter: 

Dirk VanderHart (OPB)

Jake Thomas (Salem Reporter)

Claire Withycombe (Salem Statesman Journal)

The Senate and House reconvene at 1 p.m.

At today’s session, outgoing House District 32 Rep. Tiffany Mitchell (D-Astoria) said the session, while risky for legislators because of the in-person session, was important to hold, particularly for extending an eviction moratorium. 

“It will be my last time in the Oregon Capitol during my tenure as your state representative, and it will be my honor to cast my vote one last time on behalf of the constituents of District 32,” Mitchell said. 

Chas Hundley is the editor of the Banks Post and sister news publications the Gales Creek Journal and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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