Students attend mutual-aid rally, separate "Stop the Steal" rally held at Capitol
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.
Police gather outside the Capitol building. Photo by Ryleigh Norgrove.
Salem—From opposite sides of the street, pro-Trump demonstrators and “Week of Action” protestors rallied to make their voices heard on Saturday, Nov. 7.
Not long after the announcement of president-elect Joe Biden’s victory, two groups assembled: one to protest the outcome of the presidential election and the other to oppose racially motivated violence and voter suppression. The two opposing rallies remained separate for most of the day.
Several Proud Boys members gathered at the Capitol on Nov. 7. Photo by Ryleigh Norgrove.
At noon, several hundred Trump supporters and members of the right-wing militia group known as the Proud Boys rallied at the state Capitol. Multiple trucks drove down Court Street in front of the Capitol, waving ”blue lives matter” flags and Trump 2020 flags, and holding signs reading “Socialism Sucks” and “Legal Votes Only.” There were chants of “U.S.A” and “four more years.”
Trump protestors and Proud Boys members swarmed members of the press, spraying a freelance journalist with bear-mace and stealing her camera.
A supporter of President Trump drives by the Capitol building. Photo by Ryleigh Norgrove.
At nearby Pringle Park, near the Salem Hospital, a few hundred protestors with the Willamette Action Collective, Rose City Antifa, and the Democratic Socialists of America gathered. Multiple Willamette students were in attendance.
“It's important for me to stand with my community. It’s such an important day, and it felt really weird for me to be sitting in my dorm room doing homework instead of being with the community,” said Oakley Phoenix (‘23).
Materials at the "Week of Action" protest. Photo by Ryleigh Norgrove.
The event was part of the Pacific Northwest Community Action Network's "Week of Action," focusing on issues like affordable housing, mutual aid and police reform.
While a few held Biden/Harris signs, speakers made it clear they were not there to celebrate the election results. Some held signs with slogans such as, "This is not a victory march."
“It feels more important this time to let everyone know, not just the far-right people but the mid-left people that just because somebody blue [a democrat] is in office doesn’t mean we can’t stop fighting for important issues,” said C.J. Bradford (‘23).
“‘Black Lives Matter’ is an important thing to say. We’ll say it until we see it. We can’t leave others behind,” said Lani Southern (‘23).
At about 5:30 p.m., hundreds of “Week of Action” protestors marched towards the Capitol. They were met with a significant police presence, and many officers in riot gear herded the protestors away from the downtown area. Campus Safety reports confirm that the Hallie Ford Museum of Art, which is located on Cottage Street, locked its doors.
A tombstone reading "RIP Trump" was projected onto the Capitol at 5:30 p.m. Photo by Noah Dantes.
Nick Wilde, (‘23) a Willamette student who attended the demonstration said, “The [Salem] police brought out everything they had. It seemed like a large over reaction to a protest of only a few hundred people. Within five minutes of the march they declared our protest unlawful despite nothing other than walking down the street.”
At the capitol, a small group of pro-Trump protestors continued to chant “All lives matter.”
Police spent about an hour standing between the two conflicting groups, and at around 6:30 p.m. told “Week of Action” protestors to remain on Court St. or they would face arrest. Many in the group continued to march.
Oregon State Troopers then shouted in unison, “Move” and ran towards the crowd of “Week of Action” protestors. After retreating, protestors surged forward chanting, “Who do you serve? Who do you protect?” and “Stay together, Stay tight, We do this every night.”
The two sides faced off for several minutes, until marchers started walking away. Most officers left by 6:45 p.m.
On Sept. 7, the Collegian reported that a student was assaulted by far-right demonstrators, leading to the arrests and release of suspects. Men affiliated with the Proud Boys also entered campus, Willamette officials confirmed.
Due to the proximity of these latest rallies to the Willamette campus, Campus Safety officers heightened security over the weekend.
The page on the Willamette website states that: “Our location near the State Capitol affords us the opportunity to witness the democratic freedoms of free speech up close and personal. It is important to understand the very real possibility of the presence of weapons, intimidation and violent tactics that could be employed by some groups at these events. What starts as a peaceful demonstration can erupt with little to no warning and quickly morph into something of greater risk to personal safety.”
At around 8 p.m. Campus Safety officers received multiple calls reporting a white truck parked near the State Street parking lot. As officials arrived to respond and report the vehicle they noted that the owners of the truck carried guns. The vehicle then left without further incident, according to the report.