The fight over COVID-19 vaccine mandates came to the public square in Redmond Saturday.
Hundreds gathered at Centennial Park at what was billed as a ‘Freedom to Choose Rally’ in support of workers in the public and private sector who could be out of a job if they choose not to get vaccinated.
“You’re going to understand that there is a group of people in your community that will stand with you united,” event organizer BJ Soper told the unmasked crowd.
“We are out just fighting for our medical freedom,” said Megan, who declined to give her last name.
There was a festive atmosphere to the event with a barbecue, T-shirts sales, and guest speakers.
Holding an American and Gadsden flag, Jeb Burton from Bend said, “We’re free Americans and we will not be dictated what we can and can not put in our bodies and that’s the message.”
The rally comes after President Joe Biden’s September 9th announcement of vaccine requirements that could affect millions of workers.
“I actually just quit my job, actually before the mandate came out because I had a feeling it was coming and I was working for a company that forced us to wear masks daily.” said Megan from Bend.
She said she left her job at Dick’s Sporting Goods adding, “I believe you have to take a stand when something is this important.”
Many in the crowd are also upset with Gov. Kate Brown’s vaccination mandate for those working in health care, school districts, and various state agencies.
Central Oregon Daily News spoke to several people in attendance who said they work in the medical field, but declined to comment on the vaccine rules on camera.
As of Friday morning St Charles Health System had 90 COVID-19 patients in the hospital, 76 of whom are not fully vaccinated.
When asked how to put an end to this global pandemic Burton said, “Everyone catches the disease and either survives or doesn’t survive.”