Hill to Hall May 24–31

May 27: Additional churches file lawsuits against Governor Brown


Alleging the governor’s social restrictions violate their constitutional right to the freedom of religion and assembly, two more churches filed charges against Oregon Governor Kate Brown. The Edgewater Christian Fellowship in Grants Pass and the Church of God of Prophecy in Roseburg filed a federal suit in the United States District Court in Eugene on Tuesday, according to AP News. The churches want to resume in-person worship as early as May 31. The Oregon Supreme Court is preparing to make a decision on an earlier suit against Brown by Baker County churches, consisting of 10 churches and 20 individuals. The premise of the lawsuit is Brown exceeded her authority when she ordered social distancing because of COVID-19. According to OPB, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld California Governor Gavin Newsom’s ban on in-person religious services, which could affect the Oregon case, as Oregon is part of the ninth circuit.


May 29: Social media feeds may contain falsehoods about elections in Oregon


According to AP News, Republican Secretary of State Bev Clarno alerted Facebook and Twitter to alleged falsehoods being shared on their platforms. On May 18, the website Gateway Pundit, which Facebook says is “known for publishing falsehoods and spreading hoaxes,” published an unverified claim that Oregon officials changed hundreds of Republicans’ ballots to non-partisan, according to The Oregonian. Instead, Oregon state election officials heard an increase in complaints from voters during primary elections who say they received non-partisan ballots when they believed they had registered as Democrat or Republican. Many of these complaints came from people who had been inactive voters for some years and had initially registered as non-partisan. The social media companies agreed to take steps to stop the information.

May 30: Police declare riot as protesters set police headquarters aflame


Protesters broke into police headquarters in downtown Portland on Friday night. Portland police declared a riot around midnight as fires were set in the street near Southwest Alder and 4th Avenue. Video appeared to show dozens of people breaking into Pioneer Place mall and taking bags from a Louis Vuitton store, according to AP News. The protest began peacefully in Peninsula Park before hundreds began marching through downtown to Portland police headquarters outside the Multnomah County Justice Center. According to KOIN News, at least two protesters were arrested and no other details were immediately released.

May 31: Director of Employment Department fired over delays


Governor Kate Brown fired Oregon Employment Department Director Kay Erickson over delays in delivering unemployment benefits to Oregonians who have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Brown said in a statement via AP News, “in the middle of this pandemic, the continued delays from the Oregon Employment Department in delivering unemployment insurance benefits to thousands of out-of-work Oregonians are unacceptable.” Brown asked for Erickson’s resignation on Sunday. When the pandemic hit, the employment department was quickly overwhelmed, as more than 440,000 Oregonians filed for jobless benefits and the state’s unemployment rate spiked to an all-time high at 14.2%, according to The Oregonian. Erickson had been director of the Oregon Employment Department since 2016, when she was appointed by Brown.