More than 250 people gathered at the Oregon State Capitol on Wednesday for a Thanksgiving meal in defiance of Gov. Kate Brown’s statewide “freeze.”
“The lockdown shouldn’t be happening,” attendee Geena Shipman, of Springfield, said. “When businesses have to close … it affects them. A lot of people have worked their whole lives to build a company to support their family and they’re getting shut down because they can’t afford to stay open … and that’s not fair.”
“Defeat The Steal And Defy The Lockdown” rally attendees stood in line for free potluck-style meal amid a steady drizzle of afternoon rain. Many gathered at the tables and covered tents set up at the Capitol grounds.
Guests were encouraged to bring food to share. A selection including turkey, salads, mashed potato, pies and desserts were set up along tables in a buffet-style.
The event drew crowds from past Pro-Trump rallies, Proud Boy members, families, and a number of homeless individuals.
Few attendees were wearing masks. No police were seen at the Capitol.
Kate Brown extends restrictions
On Wednesday afternoon, Brown extended restrictions aimed to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The current statewide two-week “freeze” runs from Nov. 18 through Dec. 2 and includes 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.
Twenty-one Oregon counties will continue under strict restrictions when the freeze expires Dec. 3.
Both Marion and Polk counties are among those 21 “extreme risk” counties.
“(Brown is) telling everybody they couldn’t have Thanksgiving — they couldn’t celebrate with their families, they have to stay home, they can’t go to school … so I figure that’d we’d do an event and feed people who don’t have anywhere to go,” event organizer Magen Marie Stevens said.
“It’s just a positive atmosphere for people to get something to eat, even if they couldn’t afford it.”
Stevens, of Salem, said coronavirus is being blown out of proportion to use it as a way for the government to control people. “I’m not going to let (Brown) make me afraid.”
Lonnie and Michelle Thomas stopped by the event to eat the Thanksgiving meal.
“God sent angels this week to provide for us,” Lonnie Thomas said. Lonnie and his wife were living in Wallace Marine Park for a few years, before moving to the ARCHES Project parking lot in Salem last week when the park flooded.
Lonnie said someone handed him a flyer three or four days ago about the event. “I thought that sounds like the perfect place to celebrate America.”
Virginia Barreda is the breaking news and public safety reporter for the Statesman Journal. She can be reached at 503-399-6657 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @vbarreda2.