PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Protesters are near the house of Multnomah County Chairwoman Deborah Kafoury for a demonstration on the same day a statewide mask mandate went into effect again.
Organizer Ben Edtl of Free Oregon told KOIN 6 News in a statement, “We no longer accept mask mandates. We support vaccine encouragement, not force. We vehemently oppose medical segregation and segregation of any kind.”
On Friday, a statewide mask mandate was reinstated as Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced 1,500 National Guard members would report to hospitals around the state. More than 1,700 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases were reported by the Oregon Health Authority on Friday, along with seven new deaths.
Portland police confirmed officers were monitoring the situation on Friday after reports on social media called for a “campout” [sic] outside of Kafoury’s home in Southeast Portland.
The “campout,” also organized by Free Oregon, is ostensibly to protest the City of Portland’s “new homeless rights that enable camping ten feet away from residential doorways,” Edtl said in an email. “If this is what she wants, let’s give it to her.”
People were asked to bring signs and tents or RVs. Only about 50 people showed up and stood in front of Kafoury’s house with signs while using a megaphone to talk to those who gathered.
Only one person brought a tent.
There was a lot of arguing with counter-protesters who stood on the opposite side of the street.
Kafoury’s neighbor Shaun Jarvis told KOIN 6 News she is a great neighbor who works very hard. And unlike some of his other neighbors he didn’t mind seeing the group out there on Friday night.
Jarvis said “Half the neighborhood comes with their drinks and cocktails and are kind of standing around drinking and that’s kind of the typical MO in this neighborhood, cruising around with a cocktail but then there’s a whole bunch of people who want to argue with people,” Jarvis said. “It’s a funny thing. Arguing about ideology’s weird. That’s like telling somebody they shouldn’t be Christian or Jewish. You’re not going to convince these people to wear a mask.”
The protesters believe Kafoury’s policies have made the homeless crisis worse, caused a rise in crime and perpetuated racial tensions. They also believe Multnomah County’s COVID policies are government overreach
They wrapped up around 8:30 p.m. They said they didn’t feel it was safe to stay after dark because of the possibility of counter-protesters.
“I’m happy that it’s not anything really terrible or aggressive and it’s a pretty good to see people protest, get it off their chest,” Jarvis said.