Thousands gathered at Washington state's Capitol in Olympia today to protest Gov. Jay Inslee's stay-home order. Similar protests appear imminent in Oregon.
The attendees of today's rally acted in open defiance of Washington's stay-home order: Few people wore masks, and the swaths of demonstrators gathered on the Capitol's steps were not maintaining the mandated 6 feet of distance, New York Times reporter Mike Baker tweeted April 19. Some familiar faces made appearances, like Patriot Prayer organizer Joey Gibson, according to Seattle Times reporter Joseph O'Sullivan.
Today's gathering, which drew parallels to an April 15 rally in Lansing, Mich., is one of many such protests cropping up nationwide amid continued stay-at-home restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Attendees say such orders infringe on their civil liberties, despite mounting scientific evidence that social distancing is effectively stemming the spread of the virus.
Multiple Washington state legislators attended, the Seattle Times reported, including Rep. Robert Sutherland (R-Granite Falls).
"We're starting a rebellion in Washington, we're not listening to this governor, we're taking our state back," Sutherland told the crowd, according to the Times report, which also noted that Sutherland wore a pistol tucked in his pants as he addressed the crowd.
Photos from the rally show a picket sign that reads "Inslee is a dictator" and dozens of others toting American flags. Some protesters came armed, sporting assault rifles at the Capitol.
Today's event in Olympia may foreshadow a May 2 protest planned at Oregon's Capitol. A group called Oregon Uniting for Liberty has created a Facebook event for a Salem protest called "ReOpenOregon Rally." The event page says 530 people are "going" and another 1,900 are "interested" in attending.
"We are calling YOU to stand together and exercise your constitutional right to demand that our government address its grievances against us," the event page description says. "We demand that Kate Brown's 'state of emergency' declaration be removed immediately and that our freedoms be restored NOW!"
Another similar event, called "Oregon March for Freedom," was scheduled for May 1 at the state Capitol, WW previously reported, but it looks as though the event page has been taken down.