Oregon Republican Party mocks armed militia threat, despite capitol building being closed due to armed militia threat

Zamira Rahim

Oregon's Republican Party appears to have made light of right-wing threats made against politicians in the state stemming from opposition to planned climate change legislation.

Oregon’s state capitol was forced to close at the weekend due to a “possible militia threat” against legislators.

On Sunday the Oregon GOP Twitter account posted a photograph of peaceful protesters at the building.

“Heavily armed militia lays siege to Oregon’s Capitol as Senate Democrats cower in fear,” the party tweeted, apparently mocking the threats of harm to politicians.

Democrats in the coastal state are hoping to pass landmark climate legislation which would dramatically reduce fossil fuel emissions in Oregon by 2050.

But the bill has stalled after Republican lawmakers walked out of the legislature in an attempt to deny the Democrats, the majority party, enough votes to proceed.

Several fled the state to avoid the vote, leading Kate Brown, the governor, to order police officers to track them down.

Under the proposed law, Oregon would put an overall limit on greenhouse gas emissions and auction off pollution “allowances”.

Those opposed to the plan say it would exacerbate a growing divide between the liberal and urban parts of Oregon.

The state Democrats have a majority of 18 to 12, but require a quorum of 20 to proceed.

The bill has already passed the state House.

A group of local Republicans were set to protest inside the Capitol on 23 June when lawmakers were present, and anti-government groups threatened to join, prompting the statehouse shutdown.

“The Oregon State Police has recommended that the Capitol be closed tomorrow due to a possible militia threat,” a spokesperson for Senate president Peter Courtney said on Friday.

The governors’ office also confirmed the threats.

Lawmakers in Oregon have previously grappled with the danger of militias.

One of the groups set to join Saturday’s protest, the Oregon Three Percenters, joined an armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016.

Dozens of people occupied the remote Oregon refuge for more than a month to protest federal control of Western lands.

The standoff began to unravel when authorities fatally shot the group’s spokesperson and arrested key leaders as they headed to a community meeting.

The Oregon Republican Party’s tweet attracted outrage online, with many condemning the tone of the post.

“Oregon GOP endorses domestic terrorism. There’s your headline,” wrote Tyler Huffman, a Twitter user, in reply to the post.

“I have to think this tweet will be deleted when the grown-ups see it,” said Ben M Schorr, in another reply.

Democrats planned to return to the capitol on Monday.

It is unclear if the state Republicans will continue their walkout in an attempt to derail the climate change legislation.

If passed the proposed legislative package would be only the second of its kind in the US, after California passed a similar bill in 2013.