SALEM, Ore. -- Two people are in custody following a protest at the state Capitol during the third special session of 2020 to address COVID-19 and wildfire relief, Oregon State Police said.
Police said protesters gained access to the Capitol at about 8:30 a.m. The building is closed due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The protest was organized by far-right group Patriot Prayer in opposition to statewide COVID-19 mandates. OSP declared it an unlawful assembly and told protesters to leave the area or they would be arrested, KGW reports.
OSP said troopers were sprayed with a chemical agent on two occasions while dealing with the protesters. The suspect has not yet been apprehended. Troopers reportedly used inert pepper ball.
While video shared on social media showed a crowd of protesters scattering after police deployed tear gas near a Capitol entrance, OSP said they have not used CS gas.
At about 10:30 p.m. troopers and officers were able to push everyone out of the building, but two people reportedly refused to leave and were taken into custody, OSP said.
Ryan Lyles, 41, is accused of using bear spray on officers. He has been taken to the Marion County Jail on charges of trespassing and assaulting a police officer.
Salem police tweeted that the public should avoid the area and streets near the Capitol will be closed as needed.
Lawmakers are addressing several bills during the one-day special legislative session, including a proposed eviction moratorium that includes $200 million in relief for landlords and tenants, a restaurant relief package that includes a provision legalizing cocktails to-go, a bill that would protect schools from some coronavirus-related lawsuits and a measure that would transfer $600 million in to the state’s emergency fund for COVID-19 and wildfire-response and recovery.
Prayer leader Joey Gibson objected to the legislature meeting without public input.
"State legislators will B there in person but they illegally closed the meeting to the public," Gibson said in a tweet. "We have an amazing opportunity to confront these criminals hiding from the people."
Roseburg Sen. Dallas Heard removed his mask in protest of COVID-19 rules at the Capitol shortly after the Oregon State Senate convened.