(Update: More information on number of participants)
SALEM, Ore. — Thousands of protesters, backed by a large convoy of empathetic truckers, converged at the Oregon Capitol Thursday morning to stage a rally and protest a "cap and trade" climate change bill proposed by Democrats.
Truck drivers started rolling from throughout the state early in the morning for the rendezvous in Salem. They left one of the locations in North Plains at 5:15 a.m., then again another convoy left 15 minutes later, KGW's Christine Pitawanich reported.
The Capital Press said thousands of Oregonians from across the state took part, with more than 1,000 trucks, tractors and other large vehicles circling the Capitol for hours, blaring their horns.
A convoy of truck drivers, farmers and others from Central Oregon left early Thursday for the Salem rally against Senate Bill 1530, the revised cap and trade (or, as some supporters call it, cap and invest) legislation.
The "Timber Unity" rally in Salem began at 10 a.m. with a list of speakers that included elected officials from rural area of the state, and timber and cattle industry representatives.
"They need jobs, they need a place to work. They need a way to make a living," Butch Dunlap, who drove to Salem from Myrtle Point, told KPTV. "Cap-and-trade is going to kill it. Cap-and-trade will put these people out of business."
"They cannot put everything on the backs of us. We employ more Oregonians than bigger industries. And so we're fighting," said Michelle Adame, who is a small business owner in Salem.
Another group - representing more than 250 farmers, ranchers, vineyard and forest land owners - came to the State Capitol in support of the bill.
"Timber Unity doesn't represent all of rural Oregon. Rural Oregon has many voices," said Megan Kemple with Oregon Climate and Agriculture Network.
"I represent so many of us who have seen and felt the effects of climate change first and worst," said farmer Mimi Casteel.
But the loudest rallying cry at the Capitol was to stop the bill in the state Legislature and let the people decide.
"I don't like the idea of imposing a tax without the people being able to vote for it," said one protester.