Conservative demonstrators are planning an event called "ReOpen the Coast" in Seaside, Ore., on May 16 to rebel against Gov. Kate Brown's stay-home orders, The Daily Astorian first reported Sunday.
One of the event's creators, Haley Adams, is a protest organizer who rose to regional prominence in the past four years for leading rallies in downtown Portland to support President Donald Trump and agitate progressives. Those events sometimes descended into brawls with antifascists. Adams has ties to the right-wing men's group the Proud Boys and has repeatedly confronted Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler—including holding an ill-attended protest outside his house, WW previously reported.
The planned beach protest is the latest escalation in a series of protests demanding that Oregon return to normal business operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. On May 2, several thousand people gathered at the Oregon Capitol, few of them wearing masks and many carrying signs saying business shutdowns were more harmful than the virus.
The Daily Astorian reports that coastal residents are concerned by the planned demonstration.
"They have zero reason to be in our community," Jimmy Griffin, of Seaside Brewing Co., told The Daily Astorian. "We don't need these people coming into our community lecturing us on our First and Second Amendment rights. They're not contributing one positive thing to what we're doing here. They're just here hoping to cause chaos like they do everywhere else."
The Seaside City Council was expected to discuss the event at a council meeting last night; those meeting minutes have not yet been made available online.
In a YouTube video uploaded May 9, Adams said she recently moved to the coast, and that she encourages everyone to attend Saturday's event regardless of political affiliation.
"Please come and show up. You can be a Democrat, Republican, libertarian," Adams says in the video. "I feel like everyone, at the end of the day, we all believe in one thing, and that is freedom. Unless you're a communist and you believe that we should be on lockdown."
More than 400 people have said they are "interested" in attending the three-hour event on Facebook.
In the YouTube video, Adams expressed support for the lawsuit that over a dozen churches and three conservative lawmakers filed last week against Gov. Brown, and she encouraged pastors and churchgoers to attend Saturday's beach event.
"This isn't just about walking on the beach. This is about your freedom," Adams said. "Our eyes are open, but there's a lot of people that just don't want to see it, and they think that we are crazy, that we're crazy to think that the government is trying to control us. And guess what guys: They are. They're trying to control you right now."
Seaside and other coastal towns have been alarmed by Portlanders and other visitors hitting the beaches during the pandemic, especially because coastal hospitals are ill-equipped for a surge in patients. Cannon Beach closed its shoreline May 8, seeking to keep crowds away. The Oregonian reported May 11 that the town's police asked 700 people to leave the beach over the weekend.
Update: The Seaside Police Department issued a press release May 12 about the planned demonstration.
"Department officials have been in contact with the organizers to inform them of Seaside's event permit process and have been discussing ways to make sure this is a safe event for everyone involved," Seaside Police wrote in a press release, adding that law enforcement will be present at the protest. "In order to increase safety for all, officers may be speaking and interacting with individuals from the known groups of participants."
The demonstration is expected to begin midmorning May 16 at the Seaside Turnaround.
According to police: "Broadway Street, from Columbia Street to the Turnaround will be closed to vehicular and bicycle traffic on May 16 beginning as early as 10 a.m. for an undetermined amount of time."