PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Supporters of President Trump gathered in Salem Saturday as part of a nationwide “Stop the Steal,” rejecting the outcome of the 2020 Presidential Election. The demonstration went on for most of the afternoon, but as the evening approached, tensions between pro-Trump demonstrators and counter-protesters rose and local police declared an unlawful assembly.
Earlier in the day, a KOIN 6 News crew spoke with several people in the crowd who were not only upset over the election’s outcome, but also suspicious of its integrity.
Some claimed outright voter fraud and criticized Oregon’s vote-by-mail system, while others said the race should not be called until every vote was counted.
“We don’t like what’s happening in our country and we don’t like what’s happening in our state, and we don’t like vote by mail,” said Michael Cross, the Republican nominee for Oregon Attorney General.
“I personally checked my own ballot status, and my ballot hasn’t even been counted yet, and Oregon is considered a blue state,” said one Trump supporter who did not want to identify themselves. “Do you know how much that fears for me?”
“He stood for us, now it’s time to stand with him,” reads the description on the Facebook event page for Saturday’s rally. “They’re trying to take President Trump away from this country and we will not stand for it.”
Though some pushing broke out when counter-protesters interrupted the rally, the gathering remained largely peaceful for the afternoon.
As the day wore on, Oregon State Police said authorities made two arrests in connection to the rally at the Capitol. OSP said they and Salem Police were aware of the “2 different conflicting groups gathered in Salem. OSP & Salem PD are not out to discourage people from gathering & exercising their first amendment rights, rather we are out to deter criminal activity.”
Shortly after 5 p.m., Portland Tribune Reporter Zane Sparling said Salem Police declared an unlawful assembly and ordered the crowd to disperse. Authorities closed the street in front of the Oregon Capitol building to traffic and diverted cars away.
An hour and a half later, police reopened the roadways to traffic.
In an evening report, Oregon State Police said four people in total had been arrested during the Salem rally between the hours of 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Those arrests are as follows:
- Nathan Arnett (29) of Molalla – Assault IV and Unlawful use of OC
- Jeffrey Mustin (37) of Eugene– Assault IV and Unlawful possession of firearm
- Ryan Swanzey (32) of Portland– Disorderly Conduct and Offensive Littering
- Jesse Baughman (22) of Salem – Disorderly Conduct and Interfering with Police
Authorities said they were aware of other illegal activity that happened during the rally and “will continue to investigate those reports.”
Addressing claims of voter fraud
Per the Secretary of State’s website, Joe Biden’s win in Oregon is definitive. More than 2.4 million ballots are listed as “received.” Biden leads by 375,000 votes, with less than 70,000 left to count—meaning even if every single remaining vote was for President Trump, Biden still wins Oregon.
Vote counts may also not match the number of ballots received, and may even differ from race to race because a person who turns in a ballot might not have cast a vote for every race.
As for claims of voter fraud in Oregon: last month, the state’s non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Office released its latest review of Oregon’s vote-by-mail system. The office found that out of nearly 61 million ballots cast by mail over the past 20 years, there were just 38 instances of voter fraud. That number was further confirmed by the Oregon Department of Justice.
Vancouver rally and march
Farther north, another “Stop the Steal” rally was organized in Vancouver. Local police closed some of the surrounding streets at Esther Short Park downtown as people gathered, holding Trump campaign flags and American flags.
Once a sizable crowd of more than 100 people had formed, people took off marching, heading for the Interstate-5 bridge, where they waved at drivers.
Several people in the crowd were also calling for a recount of the governor’s race in Washington, which has already been called for Democratic Incumbent Jay Inslee.
One participant, Adam Schetler, said he still thinks Trump could win the presidency.
“Donald Trump has my values and I’m ready for Donald Trump for four more years,” said Schetler.
“We are looking for a recount because it’s obvious there has been some fraudulent ballots come in and it’s really hard to believe a man that’s been in public office for somewhat of 50 years—who’s done nothing—now all of a sudden has overwhelming votes, the most in history ever—it’s too far-fetched,” said rally-goer James Hurst.
In Vancouver, a lone county-protester showed up to support the Black Lives Matter movement. He recalled the unrest in the country back in 1968 and said the country has had a long history of struggle and he sees more ahead.
“I’m an Independent voter. I realize the last four years have been incredibly destructive in many ways: the environment, the middle class, our relationship with our allies, and we can’t continue with that destruction any longer,” said Den Mark Wichar.
Follow reporter Jennifer Dowling for live updates:
Portland Tribune Reporter Zane Sparling contributed to this story.