Three people have been arrested and lodged at the Marion County Correctional Facility following violence at the Oregon state Capitol building linked to clashes between right-wing protesters and anti-fascist left-wing counter-protesters.
According to a press release by the Salem Police Department, the individuals arrested include 34-year-old Andrew Alan Foy, 33-year-old Nathan McFarland and 18-year-old Anthony Villaneda.
Foy is charged with disorderly conduct and criminal trepass in the second degree, McFarland is charged with disorderly conduct in the second degree, and Villaneda is charged with five counts of unlawful pointing of a laser.
Police said that the first event by right-wing protestors, billed as the Freedom Rally, appeared on social media in February.
Meanwhile, a second event appeared soon after, dubbed Fascist Free 503, indicating a counter-response to the Freedom Rally. Social media posts connected to the group indicated their intention to prevent the Freedom Rally caravan from meeting at the state capitol.
Shortly before noon, approximately 100 individuals wearing black clothing and ballistic vests and carrying firearms, bats, skateboards, umbrellas, shields and gas masks arrived on the Capitol Mall grounds. Some individuals from the group carried Youth Liberation Front flags, a group known to espouse left-wing ideologies. The group congregated along Court Street in front of the Capitol building.
At around 2:15 p.m., police warned that the protest had increased in size and risk to public safety.
“There are approximately 150-200 participants that are heavily armed at the capitol at this time,” police said in a Twitter thread, noting that counter-protesters were expected to arrive in large numbers.
Soon after the protesters’ arrival, the Salem Police Department began to receive reports that individuals from the Court Street group were targeting vehicles driving by.
Victims reported their vehicles were damaged by paint filled balloons, rocks and other hard objects being thrown at them as they passed. One vehicle sustained significant damage after a large tree limb was thrown through the front window into the vehicle’s passenger seat.
Salem PD said patrol officers responded and took several reports to initiate criminal investigations.
Police also closed Court Street in response to the criminal activity, allowing Oregon State Police and Salem Police crowd management teams to respond to the area and declare the gathering an unlawful assembly. In addition, the closure deterred the Freedom Rally Caravan from entering the area.
Authorities gave audible announcements warning the crowd on Court Street to disperse, before successfully moving the individuals onto the Capitol Mall. No force was used as the protesters complied with commands.
However, the dispersed crowd began marching along various streets surrounding the capitol grounds, which resulted in several altercations and property damage, including one reported incident of paintball guns being used and a firearm displayed.
During the arrest of two suspects, Salem police said officers used less-than-lethal rounds in their apprehension.
Authorities noted that these are open criminal cases which will continue to be investigated. Anyone with related to these incidents or any other criminal acts which took place on Sunday, March 28, are encouraged to contact the Salem Police Department tips line at 503-588-8477.
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