SALEM, Ore. — Oregon State Police has requested activation of the Oregon National Guard to help with potential protests and civil unrest at the state Capitol in Salem, the agency announced on Wednesday.
OSP Superintendent Terri Davie made the request, which was granted by Governor Kate Brown.
“The Oregon State Police will continue to take a neutral role in ensuring Oregonians exercise their First Amendment rights,” said Superintendent 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.”
According to OSP, elements of the National Guard will be deployed "as necessary," and deployment locations will not be made public.
Demonstrations similar to the chaotic January 6 event in Washington D.C. have played out at the state Capitol in Salem over the past several months — albeit on a much smaller scale — resulting a handful of arrests. One man arrested at a December protest in Salem that turned violent was taken into custody again last week for allegedly firing multiple shots into the federal courthouse in Portland.
The FBI has issued internal warnings that another wave of armed protests are likely in both Washington D.C. and state capitols around the country as President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration nears.
State troopers and Guardsmen often work and train together for different tasks — including response to civil unrest, human remains recovery during wildfire response, and deploying in communities during times of crisis, OSP said.
“With the Oregon National Guard supplementing OSP ranks, we will be ready to ensure peaceful events and handle emergency situations,” said OSP Captain Timothy Fox.
The state police agency said that it will be working with local, state, and federal partners to plan for "potential events" at the state Capitol and any other jurisdictions in the state.
"OSP will continue to leverage their strong partnerships with local and federal law enforcement, in efforts to provide safety to legislators and employees conducting the people’s business in the Capitol," the agency said. "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."