Roseburg senator's masking protest causes stir in state Capitol

Senator Dallas Heard removed his mask in protest shortly after the Oregon State Senate convened for the third special session of 2020, resulting in a verbal squabble with Senate President Peter Courtney.

Posted: Dec 21, 2020 11:13 AM
Updated: May 3, 2021 1:01 PM

SALEM, Ore. -- Sen. Dallas Heard removed his mask in protest shortly after the Oregon State Senate convened for the third special session of 2020, resulting in a verbal squabble with Senate President Peter Courtney.

Heard, a Republican representing Roseburg, was called upon for remonstrances shortly after the Senate convened at 8 a.m. Like other Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate, Heard voiced his concern over legislative COVID-19 rules requiring masks in the Capitol and banning the public from the chambers during the session.

"This is yet another illegitimate session in which you, the democratic majority, have declared the people unfit to participate in person in their own Capitol building," he said. "Let the record reflect that I am in fierce opposition to any legislation that this illegitimate assembly may pass today. You will be held accountable for this in the coming years."

Heard continued by quoting scripture, likening the democratic majority to tyrants.

"I declare my right to protest against your false authority and remove my mask," he said as he took off his mask. "I will stand here for 30 seconds while you decide if you are fascists willing to use the government to force and override my rights or to prove that you are nothing more than bullies and false authorities."

Heard stood in silence for several seconds before Courtney called for the next item on the agenda. The two then spoke over each other until Courtney asked for Heard's microphone to be turned off. Heard did not vote on the next motion before the Senate was called to recess.

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