Today, before the Honorable Courtland Geyer, Chandler Pappas, 28, was sentenced to 13 months in the Department of Corrections for unlawfully spraying mace at Salem Police officers while they attempted to secure the Oregon State Capitol from a riot on December 21, 2020. Pappas previously pled guilty to three counts of Unlawful Use of Mace in the First Degree on February 22, 2022. While the presumptive sentence for all three offenses was a term of probation, Judge Geyer found substantial and compelling reasons to depart from probation and sentence Pappas to a 13-month prison term on one count. On the two remaining counts, Judge Geyer sentenced Pappas to 36 months of probation, with conditions that included no contact with the victims, co-defendants, and the Oregon State Capitol.
On December 21, 2020, a group of about 100-200 individuals gathered at the Oregon State Capitol to protest the building’s closure to the public during a special session. Prior to the protest, Pappas shared content on his Twitter account inviting followers to a “non-permitted flash mob” at the Capitol during the live special session that was set to begin on December 21.
The protest became increasingly more violent after a west facing door was opened by former state representative Mike Nearman and protestors began to flood the Capitol building. Members of both the Oregon State Police and Salem Police Department stationed inside attempted to secure the building by removing protestors but were quickly met with force of a crowd of protestors continuing their attempts to enter the building. The Salem Police Department Mobile Response Team (MRT) arrived shortly thereafter to aid in the effort. When the MRT took position in front of the door, Pappas drew a can of mace or other deleterious agent and sprayed six Salem Police officers in the body and face, causing brief incapacitation and pain. After Pappas’ attack two additional protestors sprayed the same line of MRT officers with bear mace or other deleterious agent. Video footage showed Pappas retreat back into the crowd after spraying the officers.
The increased violence that followed Pappas’ attack required law enforcement to retreat into the Capitol and secure interior doors to prevent Pappas and others from further entering the Capitol and endangering state legislators.
Shortly thereafter, Pappas made his way into the building armed with what appeared to be an AK-47 type firearm and began to taunt law enforcement by kicking the interior doors. Pappas also appeared to be wearing body armor. Within fifteen minutes of his arrival, Pappas repeatedly and aggressively pulled the secured interior doors open until they opened and advanced on law enforcement, though no longer armed with the purported firearm. Due to Pappas’ forceful opening of the interior doors, two other individuals threw items that ultimately struck one member of the MRT. These two individuals were different than those that also bear maced the MRT outside of the Capitol. Although law enforcement was able to use force to get Pappas out of the Capitol, he was not arrested that day due to the security risk the riot created to law enforcement.
In total, six defendants were arrested, charged, and sentenced for crimes including riot, unlawful use of mace, harassment and assaulting a public safety officer for their violent acts on December 21, 2020. Chandler Pappas was the final defendant to be sentenced.
Marion County District Attorney Paige Clarkson stated, “this sentence today closes an embarrassing and disgraceful chapter in our state’s history. I am pleased that Judge Geyer held this defendant accountable for his violence toward our law enforcement officers. I am grateful to the officers from both the Salem Police Department and the Oregon State Police who willingly put their own personal safety on the line to protect our Capitol and our community.”