Attendees hold signs and flags during a freedom rally in downtown Mossyrock on Saturday. (
(STAFF REPORTS/Centralia Chronicle)
Hundreds rally in Western Washington town Mossyrock in support of town’s opposition of Governor’s COVID-19 restrictions
Hundreds of residents from all across the Pacific Northwest gathered in Mossyrock Saturday afternoon in support of the East Lewis County town’s decision to ignore restrictions ordered by Gov. Jay Inslee and aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19.
The city council voted last month to disregard the restrictions, which include a ban on dining inside bars and restaurants, a reduced capacity at retail locations and other measures.
The founder of Patriot Prayer, Joey Gibson, was the first to announce plans for the rally, and he was among several speakers to take the stage during an event that lasted more than two hours. The goal was to support Mossyrock’s decision and spend money at local establishments, he said.
He said Mossyrock is taking a “courageous stand.”
“It is not easy to take a stand. It’s not easy to do the right thing,” he said. “It never is, otherwise people would do it all the time. But the truth is people are finally understanding that the solution is not from the government. We cannot rely on the politicians, we cannot rely on anybody, ladies and gentlemen … You guys are the solution to the problems we have in Washington state.”
Inslee was at times called a “tyrant and dictator” by speakers who railed against his failure to call a special session of the Legislature and seemingly taking on the roles of both the executive and legislative branches of government.
The event opened with an introductory speech by Eric Rohde of the Washington Three Percenters, a far-right militia group that, like Patriot Prayer, has been a fixture at rallies against government restrictions throughout the ongoing pandemic.
“I see free people,” he shouted into a microphone. “Are you subjugated peasants under the rule of King Inslee?”
“No!” the crowd responded.
“Mossyrock, we commend you!” Rohde shouted to cheers, declaring Mossyrock as “free and open.”
After the crowd — waving flags and carrying homemade signs — sang the national anthem, Rohde said that cities across Washington and the United States should follow in the example of Mossyrock, which “will not bow to a tyrant.”
“Every city in Washington can learn from Mossyrock,” he said. “It can learn from the citizens with the steel in their spine. It can learn from their constitutional peacekeepers, not commissars marching on the orders of an anti-constitutional communist in the guise of our governor. Hats off to Mossyrock.”
On Monday, Mossyrock Mayor Randall Sasser said it was never his intention to draw so much attention to the town, although he appreciated the support shown at Saturday’s event, and knew that businesses raked in extra revenue from all the visitors.
“The main intent was just to try to protect our own businesses in our town … but hopefully it started a movement, hopefully it will start a dialogue,” he said.
Although Sasser did not speak at the event, which was not sanctioned or endorsed by the city, he did spend Friday speaking at an event in the Tri-Cities geared at reopening and bucking statewide orders.
“I guess you could say I was the guest speaker, talking about what we did and the reasons why,” Sasser said.
Gibson said there has been one positive outcome to COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions, and that has been that people have awakened to “tyranny.” He said the government does not care about the health, wellbeing and families of residents, but has instead been slowly eroding rights for years.
“In 2020 they’re going for everything guys … They’re not even trying to hide it,” he said.
He said citizens should not — and would not — exchange their rights for a false promise of safety, adding that “we never have and we never will.”
“We will not allow one virus to destroy this constitution,” he said.
Gibson said the government will not stop taking away rights until they are scared of the citizens.
“The government needs to be afraid of the people and not the other way around,” he said.
Gibson said compliance with government orders during the pandemic will lead to the destruction of the country.
Following a theme from the event, he implored businesses across the state to rise up and ignore what he believes are illegal government orders. Those that do so, he said, will be rewarded with the backing and support of his organization and others.
He said businesses should never pay their fines and that there is no evidence the virus is spreading in restaurants such as Spiffy’s, which has racked up around $70,000 in fines as of last week for not closing its doors to in-person dining.
“If you stand up and you stand tall, and the state comes after you, we will back you 100 percent,” he said.
He also criticized the influence of China on American corporations and politicians, noting that the country’s economy has returned to normal while America continues to see lockdowns and restrictions.
Gibson said attendees were “fighting for your lives” to keep businesses open. He implored citizens to stay resolute in the weeks and months ahead in speaking out against government overreach.
“Miracles are real and they do happen. They do happen,” Gibson said. “God can do anything, but you have to put out the fight, you have to put out the work. If you get up and you keep fighting for this beautiful country, God will create miracles in your life and in your community. I’ve seen it first hand.”