New York Daily News
Police used various crowd control tactics, including closing streets and deploying blue smoke, to try and break up an anti-lockdown protest organized by a far-right group at the Oregon state capitol.
Shortly before 9 a.m. local time, Salem police started closing streets and warning the public to avoid the area around the capitol building as protesters gathered and state lawmakers met to work on emergency COVID and wildfire relief legislation.
The protest, organized by Patriot Prayer, a far-right group that has clashed repeatedly with racial justice protesters in 2020, was declared an unlawful assembly by the Oregon State Police before 9:30 a.m. Police said anyone who did not leave the area would be arrested and started deploying more strident crowd control measures as the protesters attempted to gain entry into the building.
Despite warnings from state police, many of the protesters remained, ripping tarps off of statues and dismantling fencing put up around the building.
What legislative priorities are the protesters so up in arms about? A proposed $200 million in relief for tenants and landlords as well as a six-month eviction moratorium, a restaurant relief package that will allow takeout customers to order to-go cocktails, and a transfer of $600 million from the state’s emergency fund for other COVID relief and wildfire response and recovery.
Protesters also chanted “arrest Kate Brown,” the popular governor who has enacted restrictions on the state at various times during the continuing pandemic. The protesters were assisted by some of the legislators inside the building who objected to a statewide mask mandate, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.
“If you had not done such great evil to my people and had simply asked me to wear my mask, I would have,” Republican state senator Dallas Heard said. “But you commanded it, and therefore I declare my right to protests against your false authority and remove my mask.”
Oregon has recorded more than 100,000 coronavirus cases and 1,304 deaths in the last 10 months, according to the state’s office of emergency management.
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