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  • Emma Innes, News Editor

Truck convoy protests at State Capitol

Log truck with signs against the Habitat Conservation Plan. Photo by Keenan Yoshizawa

A small convoy of trucks circled the Oregon State Capitol around noon on Wednesday, March 7, 2024, making their presence known with repeated horn honking. Several onlookers watched for a few minutes from the Capitol Terrace on the roof, with others looking on from the sidewalk. The protest was associated with Oregon Natural Resources Industries (ONRI) in support of the logging industry, though according to the legislative calendar there was not an event in the legislature on March 7 that involved the logging industry. 

The convoy was led by a semi-truck draped in slogan-covered tarps, as well as a truck full of giant logs. Slogans on the tarp truck included “Taxing Pollution Solves Nothing at All,” “No SB 1546” and “No Sale of Elliot Forest.” The log truck had signs from the ONRI with the slogan “Stronger Together” and a sign calling to “Stop the HCP!” The American Flag was prominently displayed, flying on the back of the log truck. A few cars joined them in honking and circling, including two pickup trucks and a minivan with a giant syringe on top labeled “Genocide.” The tarp truck included a hint of vaccination opposition messaging as well, with signage reading “No Mask, No Jab, I Do Not Consent!” 

Accompanying the convoy was about a dozen protestors with smaller American flags standing in front of the capitol, waving them as the trucks passed by. Additionally, two people were holding signs that read “No Transparency No Trust.” 

Tarp truck with pro-timber rhetoric. Photo by Keenan Yoshizawa

The protest appeared to be in general support for the logging industry as part ONRI’s work. There was no event in the legislature that day. Senate Bill 1546, which was mentioned on the tarp truck, relates to technology in the 2024 session. However, the 2022 Session SB 1546 related to establishing the Elliot State Research Forest, the largest research forest in North America. The Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) being protested covers 640,000 acres of Oregon Department of Forestry lands and is intended to protect species conservation. According to the ONRI website against the HCP, the HCP has been corrupted by politicians.

In terms of the vaccination opposition subparts of the protest, Oregon has not had mask mandates since March of 2022, with the mandate for masks in healthcare settings ending April 2023. Though COVID-19 vaccine mandates fizzled out for healthcare workers and teachers, longstanding vaccine mandates such as those required for children in public schools remain. The Center of Disease Control states that vaccines are safe and highly recommended vaccines for children and adults in order to protect from serious diseases.

A protester waving the American flag out of a moving vehicle

One of the flag-waving protestors Janet Bailey said, “My heart goes out to the loggers of Oregon.” When asked what the protest was about, Bailey said, “This is a protest from the loggers begging our government not to close the dams, not to take down the bridges.” Bailey further went on to express concern that the children of loggers and fishermen, as well as the related industries, will be affected as well. Bailey described how she feels that multiple generations of loggers have worked hard and that their livelihood is being torn down by legislators. 

The protest contains echoes of the larger 2020 Timber Unity protest, in which a convoy of trucks circled the capitol, disrupting classes with constant horn honking. The 2020 protest included the same strategy of trucks sporting tarps filled with slogans, including one stating, “You Got It, A Truck Brought It!” 

At the same time as the truck convoy was occurring, Oregon Capitol Chronicle reporter Julia Shumway reported there was a protest in the capitol park against anti-LGBTQ comments made by State Representative Dwayne Yunker (R-Grants Pass), as well as anti-Muslim and anti-atheist comments made by State Representative E. Werner Reschke (R-Malin).

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