By TED TAYLOR
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
About 100 Trump-Pence supporters lined N. Hwy 97 in Bend Friday afternoon, but organizers hoped the event would remain under the radar of media and social media to avoid potential clashes with opposing groups.
In an email sent to local Republicans, organizers said the rally was planned from 4:30 p.m. to. 6 p.m. on the sidewalk in front of Hobby Lobby, off Third Street near Butler Market Road.
Supporters, including Deschutes County Commissioner Phil Henderson, lined both sides of the highway. Some waved Trump flags as Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” blared from a boom box.
Some anti-Trump comments were yelled from passing cars while others honked in support.
But it was clear organizers and local GOP reps wanted to keep the event on the down-low.
Organizers asked local Republican party officials to send information on the rally only to their databases, and not announce it through a press release or social media posts.
When the Deschutes GOP office answered the phone, a staffer said he was unaware of the rally and would ask someone about it.
But when he set the phone down, he could be overheard saying to someone he knew the event was supposed to be under the radar.
Scott McLean, who we later learned was one of the rally organizers, then came on the phone and said he hadn’t heard of the rally. He passed along the number of Lucy Brackett, someone he said would have more information.
Brackett’s phone number was listed as a contact in email messages about the rally.
A voicemail left on Brackett’s cell wasn’t returned.
Another contact in the email, Lisa, said she was part of the Deschutes Republicans but wasn’t aware of any rally.
At the rally, McLean told Central Oregon Daily conceded he wanted to keep the rally on the DL because it was the first one of the summer, they didn’t want any violence and wanted to gauge turnout.
“If less people know about it, then maybe there would be less counter-protestors,” he said, motioning to a small group of counter-protestors with signs. “We’re happy to see them there. They’re expressing their First Amendment rights.”
McLean said the group wasn’t there to say Black don’t matter as some of the other side had suggested. On that issue, he said, “We agree.”
“We’re here to support law enforcement as well. We’re here to support our president and we’re here to support our veterans,” he said. “Because those two things are not against each other. They coexist.”
McLean said he was pleased by the turnout considering they didn’t really promote the event.
“We’ll certainly have more, I just don’t know when,” he said.
News of the rally started making the rounds on social media with screenshots of the email.
The “Central Oregon Diversity Project” Facebook group alerted its members of the rally and said “a few of us will be coming out to show them a bit of resistance and counter protest. We are not encouraging any violence.”
Organizers of the Trump rally said their MO would be to smile and wave and not engage with anyone shouting insults.