Police have arrested three people following a violent clash between right-wing protesters and Antifa members outside of the Oregon state capitol in Salem.
Salem police announced the arrests on Sunday following the violent clash. The police press release said that the opposing groups met near the Oregon capitol building after “heavily armed” counter-protesters touting Antifa symbols attempted to disrupt a “Freedom Rally” of right-wing protesters driving by the capitol.
Authorities arrested 34-year-old Andrew Alan Foy, 33-year-old Nathan McFarland, and 18-year-old Anthony Villaneda in connection with the violence. Police charged them with violations including trespass, disorderly conduct, and unlawful pointing of a laser.
The police described the events leading up to the clash as well as rioters armed with “firearms, bats, skateboards, umbrellas, shields and gas masks” that threatened protesters and damaged vehicles with rocks, paint-filled balloons, and other objects:
The first event billed as the Freedom Rally appeared on social media streams in February. A second event appeared soon after, named 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 leftwing ideologies. The group congregated along Court Street in front of the capitol building.
Soon after their arrival, the Salem Police department began to receive reports that individuals from the Court Street group were targeting vehicles driving by. The 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. Patrol officers responded and took several reports to initiate criminal investigations.
During the protest, the Salem Police Department directed people away from the capitol, warning that dozens of “heavily armed” protesters were swarming the area.
#salemoregon UPDATE at 1415
1⃣/4⃣: Protest events at the @OregonCapitol have increased in size/risk to public safety. There are approximately 150-200 participants that are heavily armed at the capitol at this time.
— Salem Police Department (@SalemPoliceDept) March 28, 2021
Portland Tribune reporter Zane Sparling posted footage of the clash. In one video, a truck window is smashed by a rock as the vehicle, toting Blue Lives Matter and Gadsden flags, drives by a group of purported Antifa protesters dressed largely in black with many wearing masks.
A window is broken during a protest at the Oregon State Capitol today pic.twitter.com/Y34mwLj9lU
— Zane Sparling (@PDXzane) March 28, 2021
Police eventually declared an unlawful assembly around the Oregon state capitol and blocked off additional Freedom Rally caravan members from entering the block while authorities cleared the area. Police received several more reports of property damage after the black-clad crowd was pushed out from the capitol into the surrounding neighborhoods.
“The dispersed crowd, however, began to move about the various streets surrounding the capitol grounds. Several altercations and property damage were reported including a reported incident of paintball guns being used, and a firearm displayed. During the arrest of two suspects, officers used less-than-lethal rounds in their apprehension,” the police said.