Video footage showed members of the anarcho-communist group assaulting people who had pro-Trump and pro-law-enforcement flags driving by the Capitol in Salem. At one point, someone in the crowd threw a rock directly at a driver, shattering his driver’s side window.
Some of the group flew Antifa flags; the vast majority donned gear favored by the network, including all-black clothing and items to obscure their faces from being identified by law enforcement.
Antifa had planned a “Hate Has No Home Here” event, also described as a “Fascist Free 503,” in Salem to counter a Freedom Rally organized by a conservative nonprofit called The Conservative Wing that they said was fascist.
Approximately 100 Antifa members, armed with guns, bats, and shields, arrived on the Capitol mall grounds shortly before noon, according to the Salem Police Department. A police tweet described the group as “heavily armed.”
“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 that 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,” police said in an incident summary.
Oregon State Police officers and local officers responded and declared the gathering an unlawful assembly, attempting to disperse the crowd with crowd-control munitions. They closed Court Street in front of the Capitol, which prevented a conservative caravan from entering the area.
The dispersed crowd began moving about nearby streets and became embroiled in various altercations, with property damage reported.
Three arrests were ultimately made. Andrew Alan Foy, 34, was arrested on disorderly conduct and criminal trespass charges. Nathan McFarland, 33, was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge. Anthony Villaneda, 18, was arrested on unlawful pointing of a laser charges.
A bail fund said it was coordinating with the Salem Antifa chapter to pay bail for those arrested. It later said it got enough money to pay for bail for two of those taken into custody.
Videos and photographs from the scene showed that one man flying American flags from his truck was detained after brandishing a handgun at Antifa members. He did so after they smashed his truck lights. The man appeared to have been released shortly afterward. The Salem Police Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for more information.
Antifa stands for anti-fascist, though critics say the network regularly uses tactics that are fascist. The network is most active in Oregon and Washington state.
Later on March 28, the state’s House of Representatives passed a bill that would bar openly carrying guns and other weapons at the Capitol as well as at demonstrations across the state.
The Democrat-controlled chamber approved the legislation 57–40. The state Senate passed it last month.