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On Monday, a group of anti-lockdown protesters forced their way inside the Capitol building in Salem, Oregon and declared the area outside a 'patriot autonomous zone' referencing the notorious autonomous zone in Seattle this past summer.
The event was organized and promoted by the Patriot Prayer group and was held the same day as another rally to reopen Cowlitz County across the border in Washington State. A group of about 300 demonstrators assembled and attempted to force their way into several entrances of the Capitol building.
In their promotion of the rally in Cowlitz, the group called for "No violence to persons or property."
Approximately 100 protesters were able to gain entry to the lobby, as state troopers attempted to push the group back outside. The Salem Police closed the streets surrounding the Capitol building and residents were being asked to avoid the area if possible due to the protest.
Once back outside, one protester said over a bullhorn "We are now declaring this area a patriot autonomous zone. If Antifa can do it so can we."
According to Joey Gibson, one of the leaders of Patriot Prayer, "Patriot groups are turning up the heat on city and county officials. They are demanding they open up these city and county jurisdiction, in accordance with the US and WA state constitution."
Gibson cited Mossyrock, WA, a town where the majority of businesses recently re-opened in defiance of Governor Jay Inslee’s orders.
In his announcements, Gibson said that state legislators would be in the building in person but that “…they illegally closed the meeting to the public.
The Oregon legislature’s agenda for the day included pandemic relief and whether to allow restaurants and bars to serve cocktails to go. The special session, which is the third to take place since March, is negotiating $800 million in relief for Oregon residents.
Police declared the event an "unlawful assembly" and instructed everyone to leave the Capitol grounds. Gibson claimed that several people had been assaulted.
The ‘autonomous zone’ designation is increasing in use among anti lockdown protesters to demonstrate the hypocrisy of government officials that allowed the Seattle zone to exist for almost a month during COVID restrictions in the state but kept businesses closed.
Earlier this month, a Staten Island bar owner declared his establishment an "autonomous zone" when he remained open in violation of state imposed restrictions.