Oregon House passes bill meant to deter political, paramilitary violence

FILE - Members of the far-right group Proud Boys and anti-fascist protesters spray bear mace at...
FILE - Members of the far-right group Proud Boys and anti-fascist protesters spray bear mace at each other during clashes between the politically opposed groups in Portland, Ore., Aug. 22, 2021. Over the past decade, Oregon experienced the sixth-highest number of extremist incidents in the nation, despite being 27th in population, according to an Oregon Secretary of State report. Now, the state Legislature is considering a bill that, experts say, would create the nation's most comprehensive law against paramilitary activity. (AP Photo/Alex Milan Tracy, File)(Alex Milan Tracy | AP)
Published: May. 17, 2023 at 4:31 PM PDT
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SALEM Ore. (KPTV) - The Oregon House passed a bill meant to deter “political violence and paramilitary activity” on Wednesday with a 36-23 vote, according to House Democrats.

The summery of House Bill 2572 states that the bill gives people “injured by paramilitary activity” the right to seek compensation for harm, including economic or noneconomic damages and attorney fees.

The bill specifically prohibits armed activity that “substantially disrupts governmental operations or a government proceeding,” or prevents people from doing things they have a legal right to do. The bill also prohibits training to do these things.

If the attorney general believes a person or group is about to engage in prohibited activity, the bill allows their office to bring a civil action against the person or group on behalf of the state.

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According to House Democrats, the legislation is meant to prevent political “extremism,” “regardless of ideology.”

“This is about creating a relief valve as the state faces cycles of increasing political violence, including intimidation of voters during elections,” said Representative Dacia Grayber (D-SW Portland & E Beaverton), chief sponsor of the bill.

House Democrats also said the bill does not affect the constitutional right to protest and carry firearms.

While House Democrats said the legislation was the result of “broad engagement with a diverse group of stakeholders” and constitutional experts, all but one of the votes against the bill were by Republicans.

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Representative Farrah Chaichi (D-W Beaverton) was the lone House Democrat to vote against.

The bill now heads to the Oregon Senate, which has not achieved a quorum since Oregon Senate Republicans began a boycott on May 3 and continued through Wednesday.