Oregon County GOP Leader Compares Gov. Kate Brown's COVID Restrictions to Slavery

An elected official in Clackamas County, Oregon has doubled down on her criticism of Gov. Kate Brown's coronavirus restrictions, comparing them to slavery.

Tootie Smith, the incoming chairwoman of the Clackamas Board of County Commissioners, took to Facebook over the weekend to criticize Brown after the governor announced new restrictions in the state to combat a surge in COVID-19 cases.

"My family will celebrate Thanksgiving with as many family and friends as I can find," Smith, a Republican, wrote in a post on Saturday. "Gov. Brown is WRONG to order otherwise."

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In an appearance on Fox News on Tuesday night, Smith stood by the comment.

"This is a travesty that's happening in our state," Smith told Tucker Carlson. "How dare Gov. Brown think she's going to come out, send police into people's home and arrest them and fine them for having a Thanksgiving meal with their family."

Smith then went so far as to compare the Democratic governor's restrictions to slavery.

"I think our people have the intelligence, the education and the independence to make their own decisions," Smith added. "We are adults. We do not need to be treated as second-rate slaves in our own homes."

Brown announced a statewide two-week "freeze" on Friday, effective from Wednesday through December 2, after a spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the state.

Under her order, social gatherings are limited to a maximum of six people from no more than two households. Restaurants and bars are restricted to take-out only and certain businesses, including gyms and indoor recreation facilities, will be closed.

Those who do not abide by the governor's latest mandates could face a citation, fine or arrest. Brown's executive order says those who knowingly violate the restrictions are guilty of Class C misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail, a fine of $1,250, or both.

In a statement on Tuesday, Brown said she expects local law enforcement to "continue to use an education first approach, but Oregonians need to understand that these rules are enforceable under law."

She added that while the restrictions may seem daunting, the state was at a "breaking point."

"I know Oregonians have made tremendous sacrifices throughout this pandemic and that these new, temporary restrictions may seem daunting," she said. "But, we are at a breaking point. If we don't take further action, we risk continued alarming spikes in infections and hospitalizations, and we risk the lives of our neighbors and loved ones.

"I also know that Oregonians come together in times of need, and we owe it to each other to take these measures seriously. It is up to all of us to work together to get this virus under control."

Oregon has more than 58,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 778 deaths, according to the latest information from the Oregon Health Authority. There are more than 3,800 people hospitalized in the state.

Representatives for Smith and Brown have been contacted for additional comment.

Kate Brown
Oregon Governor Kate Brown speaks at the Portland Art Museum in Portland, Oregon, in May 2015. Anthony Pidgeon/Redferns