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Salem protesters declare, ‘We will not comply’ with Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s new COVID-19 rules – OregonLive

Drivers caravaned from around Oregon to the Capitol in Salem Saturday, calling on Gov. Kate Brown to “stop the pause” regarding restrictions spurred by COVID-19.

More than 100 people, most of whom were not wearing masks, gathered on the plaza across Court Street from the Capitol in the afternoon.

In 41-degree weather and with hot coffee in hand, attendees held signs with phrases such as, “Mask = Muzzle,” “Stuff your mandate” and “We will not comply.” Some held American, Trump or “Don’t tread on me” flags on either side of the street as cars drove by.

“The government … can’t decide what’s best for people,” said Joyce Stafford, who drove from Roseberg to participate. Others drove from Albany, Eugene, Springfield and Corvallis. ”They can’t make unconstitutional mandates and expect people to follow them.”

Brown ordered a two-week “freeze” earlier this month to slow the spread of the virus.

The statewide restrictions run from Nov. 18 through Dec. 2 and include Thanksgiving. They limit restaurants to take-out only; close gyms, museums and outdoor recreational facilities; limit capacity at stores; and limit social get-togethers even in private homes.

Some businesses in the Salem-area, including Courthouse Club Fitness and Flex Fitness, are staying open anyway.

All freeze measures are enforceable by law, though many local agencies in the state have said they won’t take action. While actions have previously been “self-enforced,” a person can now be cited, fined or arrested if caught violating the order.

Saturday’s event included speakers at the Capitol where three booths were set up, one with information about fraudulent voting and the others selling Trump memorabilia and flags.

Later, a couple of dozen participants drove to the governor’s mansion, also known as Mahonia Hall. Organizers said they heard Brown was in Hawaii, but staffers in Brown’s office confirmed she was in Oregon.

No police were seen at the Capitol. A marked Salem police vehicle was parked near the mansion, along with two unmarked police cars and a couple of officers on bicycles.

When protesters turned on car alarms and honked to make noise in the south Salem neighborhood, officers told them they needed to stop since it would be a noise violation. They were also told to stay out of the street for cars to drive.

Organizer Geena Shipman of Springfield said Brown may think she’s shut down the state, but that’s not going to happen. She said having schools and businesses closed made no sense when places like Walmart remain open.

“What she says doesn’t matter to us,” Shipman said. She showed a mask she had in her pocket with the slogan “Dump Kate, Vote Trump” on it.

“I choose not to wear a mask,” Shipman said. “I’m a hugger. I’m at rallies all the time. If this so-called virus was as bad as they say it was, don’t you think I would have gotten it by now?”

The Oregon Health Authority on Saturday reported a second consecutive day of record-high new cases of COVID-19. There were 1,509 new confirmed or suspected cases announced Saturday and seven more people died, officials said, bringing the state’s death toll during the pandemic to 819.

Saundra Alma from Albany said there have been grassroots efforts every week across the state fighting for different issues she said relate to patriotism, involving groups such as stop the steal, stop the shutdown and back the blue.

“We’ll see more going forward,” she said. “It’s safer for us to do it here in Salem than in Portland.”

— The Salem Statesman Journal

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