'Oregon politics has been thrown into chaos for more than a week after Republican legislators fled the state and took refuge in neighboring Idaho. As police were ordered to bring them home, rightwing militia groups vowed to defend them, raising the prospect of violent confrontation.
The issue that sparked the disorder in the Pacific Northwest state: climate crisis.
The Republican senators were responding to an incremental, market-based, cap-and-trade plan aimed at curbing climate crisis. But, when faced with the climate bill, Republicans pulled their senators out of the state, and denied the Senate a quorum.
Earlier in the session, they did the same thing when faced with a bill raising taxes for education, and Democrats broke the deadlock by abandoning bills intended to limit exemptions to vaccination and introduce gun control measures.
But this time, Democrats looked set to call their bluff, triggering a sometimes shocking escalation in rhetoric as police were asked to bring the fleeing senators to heel. Senator Brian Boquist – a former special forces officer and the owner of a business that reportedly deployed “paramilitary force” in overseas conflicts – hinted he would violently resist arrest.
Boquist told reporters: “Send bachelors and come heavily armed. I’m not going to be a political prisoner in the state of Oregon. It’s just that simple.”
Faced with the effort to stop the climate crisis bill, several armed rightwing groups said they would defend them. On Thursday, a convoy of logging trucks blocked the streets of the state capital, Salem, while hundreds of protesters – some sporting the insignia of patriot movement groups – demonstrated outside the state house against the climate crisis bill, despite the fact it was no longer even on the table.'
Read more: How Republicans killed Oregon’s climate crisis bill – by fleeing the state