▶️ ‘Vigil for Democracy’ draws groups to Peace Corner on Jan. 6 anniversary

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One year ago, thousands of people participated in an attack on the United States Capitol in an effort to stop the approval of the 2020 election. 

On Thursday at noon, a much smaller crowd gathered at Peace Corner in Bend to commemorate the event’s anniversary in what they called a Vigil for Democracy. 

“What happened a year ago was very bad, I can’t even put it in words,” said Tom Iraci from Crooked River Ranch. 

“We think democracy’s at risk a little bit today, and so we’re here to express our support for it,” said Chris Gardner, a member of the host group Vocal Seniority. 

They, along with the group Indivisible Bend, felt it was necessary to mark the day locally to take a stand for what they called the cornerstone of democracy. 

“We feel very strongly that every citizen’s vote should count equally, and their access to voting should be equal, because that’s the essence of democracy,” Gardner added.

Jamie McLeod-Skinner, a candidate for Oregon’s 5th congressional district, came to speak at the event and show her support.

“I have lived and worked in former war zones, and I have seen what it looks like when democracy fails,” McLeod-Skinner said. “Last year was a terrifying reminder of how vulnerable our democracy is, how precious it is, and the fact that people have stood up and are still standing up and demanding that we protect it is critically important to me.”

A couple of counter-protesters waved an American flag and a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag nearby. Both declined to comment on the event. 

Some attendees said the two had shown up at past events, but had not caused any issues. 

“I’m looking across the way here and I see these guys with sidearms, and flying the yellow flag with ‘Don’t Tread on Me.’ That’s one example of what’s going wrong with this country,” Iraci said.

In her speech, McLeod-Skinner said the presence of counter-protesters was a testament to the importance of democracy. 

“The fact that we have folks here who have dramatically different perspectives and ideas is a really powerful statement about our democracy, and I really want to acknowledge that because that’s the power of what was at risk last year,” she said. 

One year later, 738 people have been charged in the attacks at the U.S. Capitol. 

“The ones that perpetrated the event, from planning it to being there, including the ex-president, they have to be held responsible,” said Ramona Steinberg from Crooked River Ranch. 

Deschutes County Commissioner Tony DeBone, Bend Sen. Tim Knopp – both Republicans – and Deschutes County Republicans Chairman Phil Henderson did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Prineville Rep. Vikki Breese-Iverson and Deschutes County Commissioner Patti Adair – also both Republicans – declined to comment.

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