Right-wing militia groups across the North-West are mobilizing to prevent Oregon police from arresting Republican state senators who have gone into hiding to prevent a climate change legislation from passing.
This prompted the closure of the capitolâ€™s Saturday floor session.
All 11 of Oregonâ€™s Republican state senators are currently on the run - some have fled to neighboring Idaho. Their walk-out is an effort to deny the Democrat-controlled state senate a forum to pass a cap-and-trade bill that would put a ceiling on greenhouse gas emissions.
On Wednesday, Oregon Governor Kate Brown (D) dispatched state police to apprehend the Reds. The fugitives however, were a few steps ahead and successfully evaded capture. Democrats hold an 18-12 majority, but they need 20 present to hold a quorum.
Governor Brownâ€™s attempt to arrest the Senate Republicans elicited response from militia members who pledged to protect them from police while they fled.
â€śI do not believe the state police will be able to find any of our members,â€ť Tim Knopp, defiant Republican state senator, told Oregon Public Broadcasting, reflecting their resolve.
Paul Luhrs, a member of the Oregon 3 Percenters militia, the most prominent group involved in the ongoing issue posted on Facebook that the paramilitary had â€śvowed to provide security, transportation and refuge for those Senators in need.â€ť
â€śWe will stand together with unwavering resolve, doing whatever it takes to keep these Senators safe,â€ť Luhrs wrote.
The groupâ€™s name hails from a claim that only three percent of the population of the Thirteen Colonies took up arms against the British during the American Revolution.
One lawmaker who has gone AWOL, Republican Brian Boquist, declared that he would not budge: â€śSend bachelors and come heavily armed,â€ť Boquist said. â€śIâ€™m not going to be a political prisoner in the state of Oregon. Itâ€™s just that simple.â€ť
Republicans say they wonâ€™t return to the state unless Democrats agree to major amendments to the bill. They argue that although there is a need for action on climate change, in the billâ€™s present form, it has the potential to cripple manufacturing and other industries in Oregon. This could prove fatal to the state economy. Democrats, once again prove that they are reluctant to settle for realistic compromise.
If this bill doesnâ€™t go through by June 30th, it dies.
â€śThis bill needs to be referred to the voters,â€ť because it would have such a profound impact on Oregonâ€™s economy,â€ť said Herman Baertschiger Jr., Republican senate leader, speaking from an undisclosed location in Idaho.
A member of the Three Percenters told Business Insider that over 600 people are expected to mobilize, consisting of 21 Oregon III% county groups, five Idaho III% groups, the statewide Nevada III% group and six other independent militia organizations across the state.