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Hundreds protest vaccine mandates in Salem

In this Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, photo, Oregon State Police employee Adam Cunningham speaks at a rally at the Oregon Capitol in Salem, Ore., to protest COVID-19 mask mandates. Police estimate about 1,000 people attended the rally. (Tracy Loew/Statesman-Journal via AP)

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — At Oregon’s Capitol hundreds gathered to protest Gov. Kate Brown’s COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates.

The Statesman Journal reports that on Saturday people at the rally lined both sides of Court Street in front of the Capitol building, and filled the first block of the mall during about two hours of speeches, then marched through downtown Salem during the peaceful event.

Protesters identified themselves as health care workers, teachers, emergency services workers and state employees.

Gov. Kate Brown has ordered those groups to be vaccinated by Oct. 18. She ordered a statewide outdoor mask mandate on Aug. 24.

“Apparently I’m not essential anymore. On Oct. 18, Gov. Kate Brown’s going to take my job,” said Adam Cunningham, an instructor at the Oregon State Police Academy. “I’ll be terminated because I refuse to give her and the state information about my personally held religious beliefs and my medical history.”

Luke Yamaguchi, is a functional nutritionist who works in Albany, said: “It should go without saying that mandated medicine has no place in a free country.”

The rally was organized by Oregonians for Medical Freedom, a political action committee that works to protect vaccine exemptions.