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Threats from militia groups shut down Oregon capitol: 'safety of legislators, staff, and citizen visitors could be compromised'

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Oregon state capitol

  • Oregon lawmakers shut down the state capitol after receiving violent threats from militia groups.
  • GOP senators went into hiding earlier this week to block the vote on climate change legislation. While Democrats already have a majority in the chamber, 20 members must be present for a quorum. 
  • Militia groups are allegedly threatening violence to protect the Republican senators, prompting the closure of the capitol’s Saturday floor session. 
  • “We have been monitoring information throughout the day that indicates the safety of legislators, staff, and citizen visitors could be compromised if certain threatened behaviors were realized,” Oregon State Police Capt. Timothy Fox told INSIDER.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.

Oregon lawmakers have shut down the state capitol after receiving threats from militia groups who are vowing to protect Republican senators who bolted earlier this week to prevent the passage of climate change legislation.

Conflict first arose on Thursday when 11 GOP senators went into hiding to block the vote on a landmark climate plan aimed at significantly lowering the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. While Democrats already have a majority in the chamber, 20 members must be present for a quorum. 

Following the walk-out, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown deployed state police to recoup lawmakers. Apparently, Republican lawmakers and militia members weren’t too happy with that order.

“We will not stand by and be bullied by the majority party any longer,” said Senate Republican Leader Herman Baertschiger, Jr. in a Thursday statement, while Republican state Senator Brian Boquist suggested he would resort to violence if Brown dispatched state troopers.

“This is what I told the superintendent,” Boquist told local media, referring to Oregon State Police superintendent Travis Hampton. “Send bachelors and come heavily armed. I’m not going to be a political prisoner in the state of Oregon. It’s just that simple.”

Militia groups are now allegedly threatening violence to protect the Republican senators, prompting the closure of the capitol’s Saturday floor session. 

Democratic Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward posted a message on social media on Friday sent from Senate leadership confirming the canceled session, according to the Willamette Week.

“The State Police Superintendent just informed the Senate President of a credible threat from militia groups coming to the Capitol tomorrow,” the message read. “The Superintendent strongly recommends that no one come to the Capitol and President [Peter] Courtney heeded that advice minutes ago.”

Capt. Timothy Fox of the Oregon State Police confirmed the threat to INSIDER on Saturday.

“We have been monitoring information throughout the day that indicates the safety of legislators, staff, and citizen visitors could be compromised if certain threatened behaviors were realized,” Fox said. “The OSP and partner agencies are planning accordingly.”

Militia members across the Pacific Northwest told The Daily Beast that they are mobilizing to protect the GOP senators. “We’re doing what we can to make sure that they’re safe and comfortable,” said Eric Parker, the president of militia group Real Three Percenters Idaho. Members are “willing to put their own lives in front of these senators’ lives,” added a source within the Oregon militia movement.

That source said that militia members from the III%ers and the Oath Keepers, an independent group based outside of Oregon, are involved in those efforts. INSIDER has reached out to both groups for confirmation.

“Ds were notified we were physically in danger,” Democratic Senator Sara Gelser wrote on Twitter. “I’ll keep showing up to do what voters sent me to do. Rs have obligation to reject violent threats. I want all colleagues & staff to be safe, regardless of how they vote.”

 

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