SILVERTON, Ore. (AP) — About 50 protesters converged on the Silverton home of a state workplace safety regulator over the weekend to protest a large fine levied against the owner of a Salem gym that has refused to close.
The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that Silverton Police Chief Jim Anglemier identified the protesters who gathered for about two hours Sunday afternoon as members and affiliates of Patriot Prayer, the conservative group founded by Joey Gibson.
“There were no problems, no issues,” Anglemier said. “They stayed on the sidewalks, and they stayed off private property.”
The controversy stems from a $90,000 penalty Oregon OSHA issued against a Salem gym and its owner, who refused to comply with Gov. Kate Brown’s 2-week economic “freeze.” Brown announced the freeze earlier this month in an effort to stem the explosion of new COVID-19 cases.
“As a result of the harm done to our business from the first shutdown, we will not survive another closure,” Courthouse Club Fitness owner John Miller said in a statement before the freeze went into effect on Nov. 18. “This is a horrible position I find myself in, and it leaves me with only one choice: Courthouse Club Fitness will remain open (Nov. 18) and the days to follow.”
Courthouse has five locations in the Salem-Keizer area.
Gyms and many other businesses also had to close or restrict their operations during Brown’s first lockdown order last spring.
Patriot Prayer has been a vocal opponent of the lockdown and freeze orders implemented in Oregon and many other states.