Climate Controversy: Militia Threats Shut Down Oregon Statehouse

by | June 24, 2019 AT 8:23 AM
The Oregon State Capitol
The Oregon State Capitol (TNS/Dreamstime/Walter Arce)

By Jessica Schladebeck

A planned meeting for Oregon senators on Saturday was canceled amid threats from militia groups, who authorities said intended to demonstrate outside the capitol building in support of 11 Republican lawmakers, likely hiding out in a different state to avoid a vote on climate-change legislation.

Police in a statement to The Salem Statesman Journal said officers have been "monitoring information throughout Friday that indicated the safety of legislators, staff and citizen visitors could be compromised if certain threatened behaviors were realized."

It's not clear whether the Senate will be able to return to their chambers on Sunday.

Threats against the state lawmakers and government officials come amid a clash between Democrats and Republicans, specifically over a sweeping greenhouse gas emissions cap-trade-bill. Every GOP senator fled the state Thursday morning instead of sitting by while their Democratic counterparts voted the legislation into law.

In order to continue with any Senate business, lawmakers are required to have a quorum.

Democrats are in the supermajority with 18 members, which means at least two Republican senators must be present to achieve the required two-thirds minimum and move ahead with the agenda.

In response to the Republican's dash to nearby Idaho, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown authorized state troopers to find the wayward politicians and bring them back to Salem. The Democrat additionally called for a $500 fine for each of the missing senators for every day they remained on the lam.

A GoFundMe aimed at covering the fines for lawmakers has already exceeded its $20,000 goal _ though that's not the only support the GOP senators have received.

Militia groups, including the Three Percenters, said they would join protesters outside the Capitol during the Senate floor session slated for Saturday at demonstrations organized as a Facebook event.

They claimed a threat against State Police made by GOP Sen. Brian Boquist as their rallying cry.

"Send bachelors and come heavily armed," the Dallas Republican said during interview on KGW Wednesday. "I'm not going to be a political prisoner in the state of Oregon. It's just that simple."

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