PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Oregon National Guard has been activated to help with possible civil unrest following the insurrection by supporters of President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol last week.
Oregon State Police Superintendent Terri Davie said OSP is preparing to take a “neutral role.” Protests are expected ahead of the inauguration but no specifics are being released.
“The Oregon State Police does not discuss the specifics of potential threats or tactical plans made unless it is determined there is a public safety need,” a statement said.
The Oregon Army National Guard will be deployed as necessary and their deployment locations will not be made public.
Reports have surfaced similar groups are planning more demonstrations in all 50 states. That’s one reason the National Guard will be ready to go if needed.
“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.
The insurrection has prompted governors and lawmakers in several states to heighten security at their own capitol buildings as they gather amid a pandemic for legislative sessions and inaugural ceremonies.
Like the U.S. Capitol, statehouses are regular targets for demonstrations. Many already have armed security personnel and metal detectors that screen visitors.
A series of smaller-scale flare-ups occurred last year at state capitols. Last spring, armed protesters entered the Michigan Capitol to object to pandemic-related lockdowns. Some were blocked by police while demanding entry onto the House floor, while others shouted down from the Senate gallery.
Late last month, Oregon State Rep. Mike Nearman, a Republican from Independence, let right-wing activists into the Capitol during a special legislative session.
Following the November election, the Oregon National Guard filled the streets in Portland and elsewhere after destructive protests.
‘Pandemic added to oppressive nature’
Sociologist Randy Blazak told KOIN 6 News the same ideology the prompted the attack on the US Capitol is also present in Oregon, with the pandemic adding fuel to the fire.
“We’ve had kind of the anti-government patriot movement in groups like 3%ers and the Oath Keepers,” he said. “It’s really kind of energized a lot of those folks that fly the Gadsden, ‘Don’t tread on me’ flags.”
Blazak said there’s a committed belief that “state government is invalid and the pandemic has added to their oppressive nature. The sort of lock down orders have been state government again overstepping its boundaries.”
The FBI cautioned states could start seeing aggressive protests as early as January 17 — Sunday.
“The thing that really motivates all of this is the idea that there are a lot of people out there who are fellow believers but haven’t been brave enough to come out into the streets as it were,” Blazak said. “And these overt actions will inspire them to come out.”
The Associated Press has contributed to this report.