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Dozens of protesters rally in Prineville, call on governor to let businesses reopen

Business owners, residents gather in front of Norm's Extreme Fitness Center

PRINEVILLE, Ore (KTVZ) -- Dozens of protesters gathered Saturday in front of a closed gym in downtown Prineville, rallying to call for Oregon Gov. Kate Brown to let all businesses reopen, as large retailers have been since the pandemic began.

Organizer and “People's Rights” group member Chuck Banks said he's not happy about the continued restrictions.

“The way the has been handled by our governor is, quite frankly, ridiculous,” Banks said.

Participants in the protest, held in front of Norm's Extreme Fitness Center on Third Street, included “People's Rights” group members, business owners and other Prineville residents. 

Gym owner Norman Smith said he supported and encouraged the rally.

“We’re here in support of all businesses -- not just our business, but we want to see Oregon open up across the board,” Smith said.

The protesters called on the state to let businesses such as restaurants, bars and gyms fully open.

Smith said he feels it is unfair that larger retail or grocery stores can stay open for all these months, yet theirs can’t.

“It’s not fair for one business to be open and anther business to be closed," he said. "All businesses should be open.”

Fellow business owner and Prineville resident Tonya Thomas said she wants restaurants to be open, but is okay with following some guidelines to curb the spread of COVID-19.

“Honestly, I can’t wait for the day that we don’t have to wear a mask," she said. "But if we have to wear a mask, then that’s fine.” 

“We just need to open," she said. "If they can follow the rules, then let’s just do it. Because I don’t see why some are and some aren’t.”

Banks said he feels that businesses should be able to open and choose whether or not to follow certain guidelines, such as wearing masks.

“I’m 75 years old," he said. "I’m in that critical scenario, myself personally. I have some underlying conditions. But you don’t see me wearing a mask, because I don’t believe the danger to me is any more than the flu, which causes a lot of deaths too.” 

Crook County, as well as Deschutes and Jefferson counties, are among 26 across Oregon that remain in the state's "Extreme Risk” category, due to infection rates and case counts, which prohibits indoor dining and fitness center use.

Business / Central Oregon / Coronavirus / Crook County / Government-politics / Prineville / Top Stories
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Noah Chast

Noah Chast is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Noah here.



  1. Of course anybody that has lived in central oregon for any length of time will consider the source. When we hear anything from that hole in the wall. There was only one man in prineville that was smart enough to tie his own shoes.

      1. Worse than a sheriff and county commissioners in the kkk? Worse than killing all the indians? Worse than a murder spree at little lava lake
        Theres a lot of skeletons in central oregons closets, not sure if our recent period of economic growth is one of them however, duh

        1. The KKK vanished in Oregon decades ago- haven’t seen a a wild-west shoot-out with cowboys and indians in a century- murder spree at Lava-Lake… regional squabble at best ! So how’s about something more contemporary ? Like this current state of “Undeclared Martial Law” that Kalamity Kaotic Kate has you all living under ? How about her racist policy to identify the Hispanic community as “disproportionate carriers” of the China Virus- then deny them first tier status for vaccinations ? How about the complete loss of your civil liberties over an 11 month lie that even had the moderator playing with words yesterday- finally admitting in public- that local hospitals are not over-run with any global pandemic (the basis for the Guvs EO’s)- that people pass “with” the virus- not “because” of it- shocking revelations from the News that you can trust” folks who have now pulled a complete flip-flop… and we’re supposed to trust them with handling the news out in Crook- Jefferson- and Doosh County ? You want high crimes and misdemeanors in yor modern era- I’d start right there !-

    1. Completely rude, arrogant, and ignorant comment. How many people do you personally know in Prineville? They are actually by and large honest, hard-working citizens.

  2. Dumb Prinetucky folk. They won’t need many doses of the vaccine in Crook County.. just more MAGA signs with that good ‘ol 2020 expiration date for the liar in office. Lol.. “I don’t believe the danger to me is any more than the flu, which causes a lot of deaths too.” Apparently they aren’t too good at math out there either.

    1. This won’t sit well with our saviour. She issued a severe 👅 wagging after the prineville mayor urged businesses to open in defiance. Endicott in Redmond was gonna pen a letter to her pleading and her edict was no business is more important than our health and sacrifices must be made. Barney will be on later to say how she’s taking a scientific approach and we need to appreciate her.😕

    2. Food for thought – if you and your precious governor were correct one would think we would not have a homeless problem anymore and one would think that all those who have not been as good at following the mask and shutdown rules as yourself would all be diseased and dead by now. Any idea why they aren’t????

      1. LA county, 1 person dying every 6 minutes. Also with due respect, data suggests you are providing an oversimplification of the homeless population. Being homeless doesn’t equate to poor hygiene or stupidity. Most homeless people are not holding signs on the street corners. I do feel extreme sorrow for the homeless. Very difficult for them to access facilities and services. Focus on loving people. If everyone wears a mask, you mitigate risk and protect vulnerable populations. Consider this a test, not of asserting your rights, but testing your love.

    3. Actually they are right. The true death rate from coronavirus is extremely low. Currently it is .04% and many of those deaths are “presumed COVID” meaning the diagnosis was never confirmed or in elderly with multiple medical problems who were going to die this year anyway. Total number of yearly deaths in Oregon has been 30-35,000/ year for the last 10 years despite increasing population in the state.look at the facts and make your own conclusions instead of digesting media hype. And be a good human and quit personally attacking people you don’t even know . They are entitled to their opinion

    4. you show “your” ignorance with your woke opinion of anyone not you, anyone that does not share your opinion…welcome to “dumb” Keep on with your shout down and insults of anyone not you, good job and you wonder why there are angry people out there, look in the mirror.

  3. You know who *wasn’t* there supporting this? The guy from the ‘Big Dog Saloon’ in crooked river ranch that caught the rona and super-coincidentally simultaneously got a brain aneurism or something and is now losing his business. Nope, that guy doesn’t have your back, even though he does have a ‘dog’ in this fight.

  4. I quote…

    ““I’m 75 years old,” he said. “I’m in that critical scenario, myself personally. I have some underlying conditions. But you don’t see me wearing a mask, because I don’t believe the danger to me is any more than the flu, which causes a lot of deaths too.” ”

    The issue is that someone can spread the virus for days before they feel the effects, that is why we wear masks. It is not to help protect yourself (which it does) but it is to protect everyone else. The same logic is behind banning smoking in public places, if you want to risk killing yourself fine but it is the risk to others that matters.

    1. Yes Roy- we get the importance of masks. But how many construction guys go to work in just a hard hat ? They don’t ! Their PPE consists of numerous items- gloves, glasses- ear protection- fire proof coveralls- arch flash suits- fall protection- lanyards to keep tools from falling and hurting others. So why do you seem satisfied with just this single approach of wearing masks- when gloves should have been added to the mix. The evidence is now clear- the virus is being passed through touched items- and the State has no strategy to address that. Phylagen test kits can immediately identify where the virus is- all distribution centers should be dry fogging (with HOCL) their products as they roll onto the trucks at Amazon- Costco-Walmart-Lamb Weston ! Upon arrival boxes should get a second dose of dry fog- all plastics- cardboard- should be dry fogged before hitting the shelves. Fruits and vegetables need to be bagged so consumers stop fondling them repeatedly throughout the day ! This process alone will create jobs- reduce dramatically the potential for exposure at the grocery stores- is what “successful nations” do- and should all be billed to the office of Kovid Kate Brown- if she doesn’t like it- tell her to get on the phone with China Joe so he and Hunter can hop a plane to Beijing and go get some cash !

      1. First off I never said the I was “satisfied with just this single approach of wearing masks”, the response to this thing was pathetic from the start if response is what you can call it. Just ignore it and it will magically disappear by April, no by the summer, no by the… The virus mainly spreads by air, you can clean your hands before touching your face thus protecting yourself or clean surfaces, but the air is different. Not only do you breathe the air but it also carries the virus to your face, and it can hang in the air. Masks are a bare minimum way to reduce that risk or should everyone who does not want to get sick wear full helmets so people do not have to wear masks if they do not want to? It is more about slowing the spread than self protection.

    2. Your assumption is that masks are the end all and be all to prevent COVID. It helps but if it was the solution we wouldn’t still have cases. You are responsible for protecting yourself. Everyone else isn’t. Take responsibility for your own health and be an adult

      1. That is not being an adult it is being selfish. Nor is masks the “end all and be all to prevent COVID” but they do slow the spread. Hundreds of thousands of dead would have liked the gesture, as well as sooo many doctors and nurses….

        1. I dunno Roy- the more you post- the more I feel that I’m in the presence of a hard line liberal who still doesn’t get it- that the Kovid Kate Kure has been much worse than than the virus ! First- the fact is- because the data don’t lie- is that all the focus on masks has promoted the wrong message. The message is simple- it takes a variety of PPE to truly “slow the spread”. Now Brown has jumped right to the vaccine- and is insinuating that this is the answer- it isn’t ! We’ve had the seasonal flu for centuries ! I’ve presented the most recent facts and a proven response to actually get Oregon’s ‘deaths per one million population” data down to single digits- other countries have proven how this is done- yet when I talk about it here- the lefty goons that congregate here suck the air outta the place till brighter minds just leave ! So you go ahead and wear your mask and wash your hands every now and then- it won’t help ! There is simply too much of the virus out there- yer trying to catch a fart in a dust devil- good luck with that !

          1. Hard line liberal? That is funny! How about a simple solution to this subject? Asking some of the doctors and nurses out at the hospital what they think? After all they would be the ones that good or bad actions in the community will impact as a result.

    3. Crazyness, someone making choices based on their beliefs. If only they would listen to you, think like you, act like you….wear your mask, get a vaccine, you will be fine, what she does will have no impact on you.

  5. part of the solution or part of the problem, these shedders will make things worse for small businesses there by not masking and not keeping distance. shooting themselves in the foot

    1. You’re exactly right. Everybody knows you can only get COVID in a small business or fitness center. It doesn’t hang out in Walmart, Fred Meyer, Costco ,or any of the big box stores.

      1. Ah, but how many people do the big box stores employ? And then there’s the benefits they can give their employees because they are big box stores. And News flash, those people get COVID, too.

    2. For those of you who continue to support these lockdowns- much like Kovid Kate- you are denying the science- what B. Lerten calls the “experts”- who say… “Because of these lock-downs, 150 million people wordlwide will go into “extreme poverty” (but Kate Brown won’t)- 15,000 scientists signed the “Barrington Declaration” that said that the lockdowns are the single greatest threat to human health on the planet. Significant findings— “young low-risk individuals should be allowed to work normally-schools and universities should be open for in-person teaching- sports and cultural activities could resume and restaurants reopen”…. These findings were published back in October of 2020- Yet here in Oregon- Kate brown continues to deny the science- the “experts”- all while collecting a paycheck that she has refused to donate to charity. I think Noah Chast could do a better job of reporting here- instead of just repeating Brown’s mantra- it’s not a good look for an up and coming journalist wannabe !

      1. The declaration’s website allows anyone to add their name to the list if they provide an email address, home city, zipcode and name. Sky News discovered 18 self-declared homeopaths in the list of expert names and more than 100 therapists whose expertise included massage, hypnotherapy and Mongolian Khoomii singing. Others listed include a resident at the “University of your Mum” and another specialist whose name was the first verse of the Macarena.

        So, yes… the Barrington Declaration, which was funded by Charles Koch, is a nice example of your right wing ‘facts’. I expected nothing less from you. Personally though, I’ll stick with the rest of modern science.

        1. Don’t look now Snorze- but you’ve just waddled yer fat hiney into todays “catch 22” ! “So, yes… the Barrington Declaration, is a nice example of your right wing ‘facts’.” The Barrington Declaration has basically come to the conclusion that lock-downs do more harm than good- especially for children out of school. So what did flip-flopping Kovid Kate recently say about school children… Dec 23rd 2020- KTVZ- “The long-term benefits of both heading off an emerging mental health crisis for our children and youth, and addressing the academic challenges that are becoming prevalent for far too many students in the absence of in-person learning, now far outweigh the short-term risk.”…. Whazzat ? Mental Health Crisis ?? Academic Challenges” ??? Katie Come Lately waited more than 2 months after the Barrington Declaration was made public to finally agree. But NO- not you- Yer still with the lock-em-down liberal left of science deniers big foot sightings- and alien abductioners ! Thanks for the laugh tho !

    3. Worse for small businesses? Worse than closing for good? Regardless of the argument on whether it is safe, not safe. Why would you be okay with box stores staying open and not the gyms, resteraunts, etc etc? Risk is only okay if you are a large chain? Why let anyone walk past the doors if you are so concerned with the risk? Scream at the top of your lungs for the box stores to only offer delivery or curbside. At least be as indifferent to box stores’ livelyhood as you are towards the little business’s.

  6. If maybe just one or two of these stable geniuses would show that they understand that masks cut down on community spread it might go a little further toward convincing authorities that they could reopen safely. The snowflake approach doesn’t appear to have been working so well for them.

    1. 1) Snowflake Method is now a term in my pandemic vocabulary. Well done, sir.
      2) Were you still up, or starting a new day when you posted this at 4:35am?

        1. Ah. Better than not getting old, I suppose. I enjoy your thoughts no matter the time of day.
          I’d been in bed for about an hour. We binged Queen’s Gambit and then I just finished Cyberpunk 2077 before I tipped over from exhaustion.

  7. Same ol’ group of haters here- allowed to spew their anger and hysterics towards a community that has a track record of success- schools open- LE refusing to kick in doors over the holidays- no fines from OSHA- and almost 100% cooperation with the contact tracers that kalamity Kate has sent out… Yet here they are with their low brow comments- pretending to be smarter than everyone else- knowing that the Mod will protect them and their personal attacks that people out in Prineville find “offensive”. And when the kick-back begins from posters like me- Mr. B will cold us to no end- thus is the manner in which the radical left has taken over your lives. The good folks out in P’ville won’t stand for it- and will carry on as usual- if you don’t like that- then stay in your homes- in your closet and in Doosh County. Stop poaching jobs at F-Book, Apple, and our hospitals… we see ya drivin’ in every morning- with your Hydroflask and “I love terriers” bumper stickers ! Yer an embarrassment with your blue blood support for Joke Biden-Hate Brown- and all things “Caliphony” ! Now- go enjoy your day- I’m done here !

    1. Too bad twitter, facebook, parler, youtube, etc have kicked you seditionist traitors for the moment, because you seem to have nowhere else than ktvz to share your conspiracies and hate. Surprised your not attacking ‘the libs’ on an Amazon review for plastic sporks right now.

      1. Too bad you think kicking those with conservative views off of those platforms is acceptable. Then you wonder why the country is divided. What a wonderful hope you have for the world, where only the left is allowed a platform.

  8. I live a few blocks from downtown Prineville, drove past Norm’s a couple times yesterday and didn’t see any crowd of dozens of protestors. Maybe I was looking at traffic or maybe I blinked and missed seeing them or maybe it didn’t last very long. But they did make the big city tee vee news, so that being the real point of any protest I suppose it must have been a huge success.

    If people would quit moving here from Bend and Redmond I might believe all the hick town remarks. Y’all as bad as them Californians I keep hearing about.

        1. That’s because their opinion is of a very small minority. The rest of us here are smart enough to know what really matters and how to protect ourselves.

  9. Look you here, how is it that comrade brown can let the big businesses open but small businesses close. It should be up to every business owner if they want to open. This is America not a communist country. Wear mask, wash hands, social distant, save lives and open business up!

    1. They are not wearing masks. Point immediately discounted. Had they worn masks, demonstrated competence and care for their neighbors, I would agree. But they didn’t and will not, therefore we all continue to suffer. They are spreading misinformation and likely the virus, and seem extremely uncaring. Shameful, really, standing proudly to what end? Nothing. Pointless. White noise.

      1. “not wearing masks” ??? It was an outdoor event- with excellent ventilation- well under the maximum number of participants allowed by Brown’s EO’s. Masks are required for indoor events- with restrictions on how long you may stay in the company of members outside your immediate family- that being 15 minutes. Maybe you should re-evaluate your own lack of knowledge of what exactly Kovid Kate’s EO’s state- at least before coming here and sounding like a complete Doosh County Karen !

      2. Walk away when you see someone without a mask, get a shot when you can. Worry about you, not how these people choose to view the risk. None of your business, or Later.

    1. Perhaps you mean to say ‘love’ doesn’t exist… ‘Love’ is a hoax. From my perspective, these actions make it confusing for others to understand the difference between love and hate. If they considered for a moment that love is the highest priority, even if they did not believe Covid was a threat, they would have masked up and protested with love. That would have furthered their agenda and message, while extending healing.

  10. “First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    Freedom of Assembly and Petition: Overview | Constitution …

      1. Kind if like attacking law enforcement in Portland or destroying Federal buildings, any business along the path..etc etc. Yeah, yeah those are “woke” protests, you are fine with that. Those people are hero’s in your mind and “mostly peaceful”

  11. The true colors of a lot of people in Prineville have come out this past year….well everywhere I guess. It’s like they have been given the go ahead to be a crazy conspiracy town…let your racist flag fly town. The amount of anti maskers there is ridiculous.

    1. Yeap you stay in your shuttered house and keep collecting your welfare check! We will keep America running by going to work, going and shopping at local business, paying for your sorry buttock to stay shuttered.

  12. Not wearing masks as they protest to open. 2 million deaths across the world, 400,000 in United States. Not enough? 1) Not the flu. 2) You obviously cannot safely reopen. 3) Toddlers throw tantrums when they want something too, but someone has to be an adult. 4) You do not care about people and lack sense. 5) Everyone else pays (especially health care workers, when you refuse to comply with simple rules eve protesting (no masks, not social distancing). 6) There is no excuse for demonstrating such carelessness and extending our suffering. Shame on you, each and every one of you.

  13. Solution. Anti maskers, when tested/ found to be C19 positive and are in need of medical care are refused…seems reasonable.

    No mask no professional medical care.

  14. MORE self absorbed twits. At least till it happens to them. So selfish, it makes me sick. But that’s the GOP for ya. The party of screw everyone but me!

    1. Who you gonna whine to buttercup ? The Crook County Sheriffs office ?? The guy who said he ain’t enforcing any of Kiss my Kovid Kates illegal and unconstitutional Martial Laws disguised as “executive orders” ??? Crook County- with it’s schools open- it’s firm grasp on the hoax- and 100% cooperation with the state’s contact tracers- doesn’t need to hear any BS from you Doosh county losers- yer wussie sheriff “Pain Nelson”- or yer new city hallers with all their social justice warrior problems that will plague you all for years to come. Just stay home- go broke- buy more dope- and wait for Kate and Joe to figure out what to do with you- probably find something for you all in the county office cleaning department- emptying ash trays- hack… wheeze !

  15. Mr. Banks needs to educate himself. The information is there for anyone to have. This is not a common ” flu virus”…
    If he won’t follow precautions for himself he should not walk around exposing others. This is not rocket science–but you have to have common sense…which seems in very short supply these days.

  16. Can they–at the very least–wear masks? Proper use can mimic a vaccine. Prineville is not an island. No one should have to die this agonizing, lonely death. Our ability to provide regional medical care should not be compromised by unneccessary spreading of this disease. Do we have a society–or not? Let’s try to protect each other, even while the time of Covid-19 is drawing to a close.

    1. Maybe not drawing to a close, after all. This from Jan. 17 Telegraph, published in the U.K.

      “Almost a third of recovered Covid patients will end up back in hospital within five months and one in eight will die, alarming new figures have shown . . . many people were going back in with a new diagnosis, and many had developed heart, kidney and liver problems, as well as diabetes.”

      A new term has emerged: “Long Covid.”

      And, it now appears in the U.S. Covid-19 fatalities will exceed deaths due to the 1918 flu pandemic. Finally we will have an administration that takes this seriously, but is it too late for many of us?

  17. Nice looking herd of self-proclaimed right-wing victims of a society whose movement toward enlightenment is too swift for their Neanderthal brains to keep up.

  18. Somehow have a feeling in march same tune will be sung at least kate hasnt seen national guard into prineville yet and stomp them down telling them arrests are coming and better be noone out after 10

  19. Wouldn’t it be cool to see the people of Prineville wearing masks, social distancing, and raising money for the homeless population, people suffering from mental health problems, and waiving signs in support of healthcare workers, teachers, and Frontline workers. They would raise awareness of how loving their city is (like their drive by in support of the 99 year old Veteran). Policy makers and media pay attention to love. People pay attention to love. Love cubed = triple love. “Hate doesn’t drive out hate, Only love can do that”. With MLK, Jr. Day around the corner, I hope Prineville can rebrand as an extremely loving community ❤. That’s my prayer for you, Prineville.

  20. I think “Wish” needs some help in his obsession with Kate Brown. Does she need to have a restraining order? And making drug-out comments about our community when he doesn’t live here anymore? Dude needs a hobby.

  21. You know, if you would all stop bitching for any length of time and actually find solutions instead of throwing around the same thing over and over about how unfair it is and how you don’t want to wear your mask, you’d actually be better off. We could have created jobs to keep these businesses open with delivery services and made more jobs to teachers to have person on person learning over the internet so students wouldn’t fall behind in the first place, but instead you’ve continued to complain and moan about how bad you got it that you have to stay home with your children because you don’t have a free babysitter anymore named school. Or your favorite restaurant can no longer give you space inside their establishments, making you eat out in the cold or god forbid, at home. Once you finally learn that you could have had the exact same lives if you would have fought for creating jobs to keep everyone in business and your children educated, it’ll be too late because you’re too stubborn to accept that this pandemic is real while using the excuse ”they’re gonna die anyways” about the stats. You’re making everything harder on yourself simply because you want to. You want everyone else’s life as miserable as yours is. Fortunately, you’re the minority and it just makes it worse on you because you’re fighting for no reason other than your own pride., creating hate instead of jobs and creating malcontent instead of actually helping anything. If you really want these businesses to stay open, then help them create the websites and delivery services needed to stay that way safely. If you want schools to stay open, then create the jobs needed to do so SAFELY. If you’ve actually spoken to these teachers, they’re scared to do their job because their lives are on the line. Make it so they don’t have to worry about that. Don’t just force them to do it. What a waste.

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