Mask protest prompts walkout at city council

A Keizer resident protesting retightening COVID restrictions prompted a walkout in the chambers of the Keizer City Council Monday, May 3.

Alexis Smith warned of her intent to remove her mask inside the Keizer Civic Center, where masks are required, but city councilors did not make comments on her action before or during the incident. Some members of the audience at the council meeting when the woman made her intent known, several more followed after she removed her face mask.

It was left to City Recorder Tracy Davis to clean a microphone stand before others took their turn to speak in public testimony.

“For the past year, I’ve worn a mask for the purpose of making the community feel safe. The reality is we need to be a little uncomfortable,” said Smith.

She said her children were suffering as a result of mask mandates and retreating from social interactions as well. She took aim at Gov. Kate Brown and recently re-enacted guidelines to stop a recent surge on COVID-19 cases.

“With the last closure the stove has been turned up. We need to look now how to escape the pot before we are too tired to fight,” Smith said.

A fellow speaker echoed portions of Smith’s contentions a few minutes later.

“As the governor continues to issue mandates and lockdowns, hundreds of thousands are activated to do something, anything to get out from under this governor’s unilateral and authoritarian control,” said Jane Herb.

Herb encouraged the council to adopt ordinances that would prevent enforcement of laws or ordinances that “go against the U.S. or Oregon Constitutions. These are meant to protect the city from the emergency order whims of the governor.”

Like-minded residents, Herb said, were encouraged to get involved at

Another Keizer resident, Davis Dyer, wrote to the council supporting actions to defy COVID rules in the way other recent Oregon cities have chosen.

“It is far beyond time for leaders to lead resistance against the tyranny exercised by the governor,” Davis wrote. “[Brown] may find it easy to ignore a small-ish, backwater town like Baker City … but she will find it harder to ignore citizens nearly on her front porch.”