Hundreds of people have attended a ‘Freedom Rally’ in a small town in Washington on Saturday after its mayor refused to enforce the state’s COVID restrictions on businesses, citing ‘the Constitutional rights of small town America’.
Large crowds joined the Patriot Prayer-organized rally in Mossyrock, a rural community in Lewis County between Seattle and Portland, with maskless protesters waving flags and chanting against ‘government oppression’.
Attendees – most from out of town – were encouraged to spend money in local restaurants, which were packed with people not wearing masks in defiance of state restrictions.
It came after the town unexpectedly voted last month to ignore Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s state-wide business restrictions to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Inslee’s restrictions prohibit restaurants, bars and gyms from offering indoor services and setting capacity restrictions on retail stores. The rules apply to all Washington counties until January 4.
Businesses that don’t comply could be hit with fines totaling thousands of dollars.
But Mayor Randall Sasser signed an ordinance saying businesses could stay open in defiance of the state mandates, claiming state officials refuse to give him data about the number of cases in the town, which has a population of 800.
‘They have issued the numbers by commissioner’s district, but not by zip code. And currently in Mossyrock, in our 98564 zip code, there is no information that states that there is any cases whatsoever within our zip code of COVID, or any deaths related to it’, he told KIRO Radio.
He told DailyMail.com that ‘District Three’ of Lewis county, which encompasses Mossyrock and has a population of around 23,000, has had ‘around 80 cases since March’.
Local critics of Sasser have raised concerns about the ordinance and the maskless rally, with one business owner saying the mayor has ‘gone slightly off the rails’.
Mossyrock’s 30 businesses are largely dependent on several annual events drawing tourists. An annual Blueberry Festival which was cancelled in August usually attracts 5,000 to the town.
Saturday’s protest, where most attendees were seen without masks, was organized by out-of-state, far-right group, Patriot Prayer.
Mayor Sasser said the town welcomed the protest, but did not organize it.
He told DailyMail.com: ‘The governor has over-stepped his powers and has no right to shut down our livelihoods. Everybody has the right to wear or not wear a mask. It comes back to our Constitutional rights to be able to do what we want to do and protect the rights of small town America.’
Patriot Prayer, a pro-Trump organization whi….