SALEM, Ore. (AP) — State lawmakers in Oregon will delay by at least two days much of the substantive work of next week’s beginning of the Legislature because of warnings from law enforcement about the possibility of violent protests.
The Legislature will convene Jan. 19. But the state House and Senate have cancelled floor sessions and committee hearings, and there will be no in-person meetings.
“There’s concern that they don’t quite know what the level or the intensity of the demonstrations might be because of what’s happened before to the Oregon Capitol … and in D.C.,” Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, told the Statesman Journal.
Before a mob of pro-Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol last week, Oregon lawmakers last month saw a violent crowd enter the state Capitol, fight with police and damage the building. The people opposed to COVID restrictions showed up in Salem, Oregon, on Dec. 21 during a one-day special legislative session.
Courtney said delaying the substantive start of the regular legislation sessions was one of several recommendations made by Oregon State Police and approved by legislative leadership. Concrete blocks were placed in front of the Capitol in late December, and the first-floor windows will soon be boarded up with plywood.
“All the decisions are based pretty much initially on the State Police. They’re the ones directing much of what we do,” Courtney said.
Rep. Christine Drazan, leader of the House Republican Caucus, reiterated that the decision to delay the session was based on recommendations by law enforcement.
“If there was a credible threat as communicated by law enforcement, the only course of action is to take necessary steps to ensure public safety is maintained,” Drazan said. “State Troopers are the experts when it comes to threat analysis, so their recommendations are key.”
The FBI said Thursday it is setting up a command post in Portland, Oregon, to prepare for any potential violent activity this weekend and into next week related to the mob attack in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6.
The agency said it will gather intelligence and work with other law enforcement agencies in the run-up to potential protests in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday. Protests are expected in the nation’s Capitol and in all 50 states by right-wing groups and supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump on Sunday and next week.