Republican U.S. Senate candidate Paul Romero of Roseburg plans to speak at one of two rallies planned Saturday at the Salem Capitol building.
The rallies are intended to convey a message to Gov. Kate Brown that the participants want an end to shutdown orders they say are crippling the economy.
“People can not afford what they’ve been put through. It’s been great that the president and Congress put together that aid package for people and $1,200 helps, but it is not fixed. And right now the fix is turning Oregon back on,” Romero said in an interview Wednesday.
Supporters of the governor’s executive order shutting down businesses and reducing restaurants to takeout say it has helped flatten the curve, keeping the number of COVID-19 cases low enough that hospitals are able to meet the need.
The disease had claimed the lives of 103 Oregonians, as of Thursday afternoon. Since the first case in the U.S. was identified in January, 61,867 Americans have died. Influenza, by way of comparison, kills between 12,000 and 61,000 people each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But those who want an end to the shutdowns said they are concerned about another threat to Oregonians’ security — the economic hit being taken by mom and pop businesses hanging on by a thread and individuals one paycheck away from homelessness being laid off.
The most heavily publicized of the rallies is planned for noon Saturday. The ReOpenOregon Rally is put on by a group called Oregon Uniting for Liberty. The Oregon Republican Party issued a statement this week supporting that rally.
In an interview, ORP spokesman Kevin Hoar said the rally isn’t exclusive to Republicans. It’s for anyone concerned about the effects of a continued shutdown.
He said some places in Oregon have had no cases or fatalities, and with businesses being closed, some are “teetering on the edge of collapse.”
“The longer that process is delayed, the more pain there’s going to be. Some of these jobs are not coming back,” he said.
He also said opponents of the shutdown don’t believe it’s OK to indefinitely suspend church services.
“You can go to a liquor store, but you can’t go to a church,” he said.
The other rally begins at 10 a.m. It’s the Oregon Women for Trump ReOpenOregon Convoy & Rally. That’s the one where Romero plans to speak.
Romero said he sees the collection of rallies — he was also slated to speak at another event on Friday — as different grassroots organizations getting together and saying enough is enough.
“Our economy was already hanging by a thread, you know, and for most Oregonians, it’s just been about survival. Well I don’t know about you, but I’m not alive just to survive in Oregon,” he said.
Romero said he’s not worried about a gathering of protesters as a health risk.
“People are being very cautious,” he said. “We’ve seen the curve flatten.”
But he said he worries that a lot of people could become homeless if the closures continue.
“And at what point do we put our feet down? The thing I keep saying is that you keep doing this to the villagers, at some point the villagers storm the castle,” Romero said.