PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – After a group of unmasked people forced Thursday’s Clackamas County Commissioners meeting to pause and move from in-person to online, Chair Tootie Smith said at least the the Jan. 20 meeting will be conducted virtually.
“I felt that it was an insurrection,” Smith told KOIN 6 News. “They were boisterous. They were protesting. It was very obvious as I got into the meeting that these people did not allow for the normal business meeting to continue.”
According to KOIN’s media partners at the Portland Tribune, during the Jan. 13 meeting the protesters refused to follow state and county COVID-19 safety requirements and occupied the hearing room for several minutes.
The group was urging “mass noncompliance” of COVID-19 safety mandates and disputing Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations. They called the 2020 presidential election “fraudulent,” despite ample evidence to the contrary.
In an interview with KOIN 6 News Tuesday, Smith said that because the hearing room is public, she has no choice but to enforce state mandates on masking.
“There were 60 people in the room. If everyone had removed their mask for the meeting, [a] $500, fine would be [a] $30,000 fine,” Smith said. “I am not willing to do that. That’s the first offense. The second offense could put our state funding in jeopardy. I also am not willing to do that either.”
Smith says the move to online meetings will start with the Thursday, Jan. 20 meeting and continue through at least next week.
“I like to come back in person and I do want the people who want to voice their opinions to the government to be able to come forward and see them face-to-face,” Smith said.
She and the other county commissioners will discuss after next week’s meeting whether to change back to in-person.
“[We] will make a decision. It’s depending on what’s going on in the world right now, what’s going in Oregon. If we continue to see civil disobedience and civil unrest, then we’re going to have to make accommodations.”