(The Center Square) — National Guard members have been activated to defend the Oregon state Capitol in Salem in anticipation of mass unrest following the second impeachment of President Donald Trump.
The development was announced by Oregon State Police (OSP) on Wednesday after Gov. Kate Brown granted a request by OSP Superintendent Terri Davie to deploy the Guard to the state Capitol.
Davie said on Wednesday that the OSP will continue to take a "neutral role" in patrolling protests at the Capitol building and protecting the right to free speech.
"Our goals have always been to protect people, protect people’s rights and to protect property," Davie said. "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."
OSP said in a statement it will not share any potential threats or tactical plans with the public unless it is determined there is "a public safety need."
As a result, the location of National Guard members in Salem will be kept secret.
According to an FBI bulletin obtained by ABC News, armed occupations of state capitals around the nation are planned to begin on January 16.
FBI Portland is requesting tips from the public on "potential violence" planned related to political protests in the coming days.
For the past several weeks, Salem has been at the center of numerous violent incidents led by pro-Trump groups at the state Capitol building.
The first incident occurred on December 21 during a special legislative session in which two journalists and six officers were assaulted by members of a Trump mob that stormed the state capitol building where lawmakers were gathered.
Oregon Rep. Mike Nearman, R-Independence, was seen on Capitol surveillance footage opening a door letting the mob inside. He has since been stripped of his duties and privileges.
Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, has called for his resignation and is filing a joint conduct complaint with the Legislative Equity Office.
The second major incident saw a collection of Trump supporters and Proud Boys who protested outside of Brown's residence on New Year's Day harass a Black business owner downtown and antagonize police before dispersing at the Capitol.
Oregon Women for Trump, the group which organized the New Year's protest at Brown's residence, had supporters who attended the invasion of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, based on posts from social media platform Parler. The group is led by Carol Leek, a Salem-area life coach.
Based on some Parler digging of my own before the site went down, it appears Oregon Women For Trump made an appearance at the U.S. Capitol invasion on Wednesday. pic.twitter.com/MK1MCkSDG8— Tim A. Gruver ☕📰 (@T_TimeForce) January 13, 2021
On January 6, members of the far-right Proud Boys group attacked a group of counter-protesters in front of the state Capitol building for minutes before law enforcement separating the two groups.
Black Lives Matter activist Gary Floyd, relative of George Floyd, was among the counter protesters injured in the attack. He has since left critical care according to sources close to him.
Salem police and OSP officials said they reacted appropriately to the incident.
Timber Unity, a logging industry group often seen protesting at the state Capitol, announced on Wednesday it will not be a part of any demonstrations this month.
The group acknowledged some of its members may plan on attending events at the state Capitol in coming days. If any do, it will be without their endorsement.
"We reject destruction and violence at our places of government, no matter who is engaged in it or what their political rationale is," the group wrote. "There will likely come a time during these sessions when we will call people to the capitols to protest legislation in a safe, lawful manner."
Timber Unity leaders told members to instead continue fighting at the ballot box and in court rather than the streets.
The Washington state Capitol in Olympia saw National Guard members deployed by order of Gov. Jay Inslee as state lawmakers reconvened to begin their 2021 legislative session on Monday.
Inslee announced on Wednesday that the National Guard will be stationed at the state Capitol through January 20 when President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated.
“These unfortunate, necessary security precautions could last longer, but we are hopeful that we will soon see political temperatures cool and threat levels come down, bringing a related easing of these restrictions," Inslee said.
The Oregon legislature's 2021 session will begin on Tuesday, January 19. But the Statesman Journal reports state lawmakers' will be delaying in-person floor work until at least January 21 due to potential disruptions by possible unrest.