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Sen. Ron Wyden tells C.O. virtual town hall he’s ‘proud of peaceful protests’

(Update: Adding video, comments from Wyden)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., answered questions online from Central Oregonians Monday in a "virtual town hall" that focused largely on current issues such as police reforms and efforts to help small businesses hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In collaboration with the Town Hall Project, the town hall touched on topics including addressing systemic racism in the wake of George Floyd's death at the hands of police officers, affordable health care amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as relief aid for small businesses.

Wyden opened the town hall with a statement, saying he is "proud of the peaceful protests around the state and in Bend, Prineville, and Redmond."

He also said this is a time to listen to both sides, and that society should stop asking too much from police.

“Certainly, they shouldn’t be doing jobs like mental health counselors, a position for which they’ve not been trained," Wyden said.

He addressed concerns from the public that young people may be discouraged from joining a career in law enforcement.

“I think in a system that is reinvented, that ought to be more attractive to young people than today," Wyden said. "Because they can then say they are going into the law enforcement field, where they can focus on what they are trained to do.”

However, the most pressing questions during the town hall were about efforts to keep small businesses afloat or recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re a small-business state, so I want to see those kinds of businesses get help," Wyden said. "I’d like to see more flexibility, in terms of meeting these medical emergencies.”

Lori Gleichman, a Redmond resident, said she wanted to know Wyden's thoughts on lowering the age requirement for Medicare and making health care more affordable, particularly during the pandemic.

“Say you have somebody in their late 50s and they have been laid off their job," he said. "What they had been hoping for was to keep that job until they turn 65. Now, they’re laid off, they are 57 years old, and they literally have nowhere to turn, particularly during the middle of a pandemic. I think that’s the kind of person who ought to be eligible.”

The town hall, which has been viewed more than 4,000 times on Facebook Live, was the sixth in a series of six regional town halls Wyden is holding for Oregonians throughout the state until town halls can safely take place in person once again.

The town hall was open to residents of Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson counties.

Central Oregon / Government-politics / Top Stories
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Rhea Panela

Rhea Panela is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Rhea here.



  1. We knew he was out of touch with us and what is happening in our lives but now we also know that he is completely clueless. And he doesn’t understand the difference between a protest and a riot…..

    1. If a handful of looters make the entire protest into a riot, by the same rationale, a few bad cops makes the entirety of police a gang of ruthless thugs.
      Overall, the protesting has been peaceful, until the police start using chemical weapons on innocent civilians exercising their First Amendment right.

      1. That’s pretty much how progressives operate. You’ve painted every single republican and Conservative as exactly the same as some nut case. I bet you enjoy the whole racist “white privilege” prism as well.

      2. doing the blm around here is complete nonsense. when was the last time a black person killed anywhere in central Oregon? when was the last time a black person was killed by a cop around here? this is a total complete waste of time and tou are not doing anything to help black people. go to the countless black communities around this country where blacks kill eachother every day and do your stupid protest. ask the men why they are so violent and kill eachother so often. ask them why they dont raise their children that the women are not busy aborting. you white liberals are so pathetic and are ruining this country

        1. Until you are ready to openly understand the institutionalized oppression against Black people and other non-white people, you will remain ignorant and uninformed. The protests across the country, regardless of demographics, have achieved more in recent months than since the inception of BLM. Saying these protests are stupid is a major oversight on your part.
          Do some reading and don’t feel bad if you learn something:
          You should feel bad if you don’t learn anything.

          1. You creeps invented “racism” without racists. Americans who are black have every opportunity as the rest of the country. They are NOT systematically oppressed by “white privilege.” If that were true, would the democrats have nominated an open racist who’s been in the system for 50 years? how about all these cities? Democrat run. Are they “systematically racist.” Or are racists like KKK memeber Robert Byrd and LBJ incapable of being systemically racist because they are democrats? ALL LIES!

          2. Disparate outcomes have multiple explanations beyond racism. This is a video of Larry elder explaining how reasons other than racism can lead to differences. What exactly does institutionalized oppression mean and how is it identified and observed? That I can tell it takes imagination and bias to see it.

        2. localguy, don’t you know that BLM members and protester think the only black lives that matter are the black lives killed by white policemen. They don’t protest black neighborhoods. They don’t protest Planned Parenthood where countless black lives are killed before they are even born. They don’t protest anything they are not paid to protest.

    2. I think Ronnie knows the difference between protest and riot, look what’s happening in his hometown of New York city. Ronnie is only trying to appease the clueless maggots, malcontents and miscreants that vote for him.

  2. Ronnie has found a way to misrepresent Oregonians from New York without having to dirty his feet here. Ronnie has a couple rental homes in Oregon but no residents, how does that work? When he flies in, where does he stay? I got a kick out of the “virtual town hall”, you had to submitt questions before hand. I have wonder how many tough questions he skipped over.

  3. Proud???? Portland looks like a war zone. I always thought he was an idiot, he just proved my thoughts correct. The Democrats have done a great job giving up their cities, just wave the white flag, or now days what color flag can you wave to give up.

      1. Because you antifa goons and BLM rioters will move on to the next city and won’t be happy (they are incapable of happiness anyway) until they “burn it all down.” And it is Portland voters why I left Oregon with my business.

      2. I grew up in Portland, but hate what it has become. It was the Rose City, people were proud to live there, proud to call it home. Now it is a homeless mecca, protesters have more rights than home or business owners. It will be a long time before I am happy with how Portland turned out. It is beyond me how the Democrats running the city, even the state, can accept what is happening.

      1. You would love anyone who lines your pockets at taxpayer expense. Did you send your stimulate check back and turn down the extra $600 a week?

        1. You are correct! I bet trehgr gets food stamps and other welfare benefits and living in their parents house and hasn’t keep a job for more then a few months at a time, because they cant take orders from the boss.

  4. Was he in Oregon or New York?
    Has he toured downtown Portland?

    Ron, since you’ve been in the government since 1981, why haven’t you worked with minority groups to give them opportunities to better their communities?

  5. He’s been a senator way too long and the view from the safety of his home in DC doesn’t allow you to get a whiff of the burning rubber, teargas, gasoline, screaming, taunts, breaking glass, screeching tires, sirens wailing, ambulances transporting wounded cops hit by flying projectiles during just one night of these peaceful protest that this nutcase of a senator alludes to.

  6. If America is “systemically racist” and Wyden has been in the system for 40 years, why should he remain in office? Should he not resign for his failures as a 40 year veteran of systemic racism perpetuating white privilege?

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