More than 250 attended an in-person town hall event hosted by Free Oregon at the Canby Grove Christian camp and retreat center last month.
It was the second live in-person event by the 501(c)(4) nonprofit, which describes itself as a nonpartisan organization dedicated to preserving civil liberties and has been active in litigation opposing vaccine and mask mandates in Oregon, particularly those involving public schools.
“Free Oregon is part of a growing movement for change,” Angela Todd, the organization’s chief communications officer, told the Current in an email. “Our message has been well-received as we have more Oregonians join us every day.”
The December 17 event included a meet and greet involving “several organizations … presenting what their organizations are doing to fight tyranny in the state of Oregon,” according to organizers and ended with a panel discussion featuring the group’s leaders and others.
The group has conducted virtual town hall meetings for months, hosting them each Monday at 5:30 p.m. via Zoom, and has recently added in-person events to the rotation.
Previous guest speakers have included Canby attorney and former City Councilor Tyler Smith, whom the group describes as its “corporate counsel,” tasked with exploring “lawsuit strategies against the State of Oregon and the Oregon Health Authority for its unlawful Covid-19 mandates.”
“Free Oregon believes something far more threatening and disturbing is in motion than a virus,” Todd said. “The pandemic has accelerated and advanced initiatives as the people’s constitutional liberties have been ignored.
“Our freedom now comes with social consequences that affect private citizens’ lifestyle, jobs, finances, access, health and safety. We fight for not just ourselves, but for the future of our children and this country.”
Todd described the group’s actions as grassroots and far-reaching, featuring collaborations with like-minded organizations and individuals.
“Free Oregon is actively litigating in court, representing thousands of Oregonians who have been harmed,” she said. “We also support local grassroots initiatives to help our mission. Finally, we engage with elected officials, candidates running for office, and in the legislative process.”
The group’s next in-person event appears to be a “Mask BBQ Party” planned for outside the Oregon Health Authority’s offices in Portland next Thursday, January 20. According to Free Oregon, that is the date OHA plans to vote on the new proposed administrative rules that would make the statewide indoor mask mandate permanent.
The rules would replace the temporary mandate, which cannot be extended past February 8. State officials have said they have no intention of making the rules truly “permanent” and would repeal them once the threat of Covid has subsided.
The group has also announced its next town hall event will return to the same location in Canby. It is open to the public and will be held from 6:30 to 9:25 p.m. Friday, January 21, at Canby Grove, according to the website.
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