Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s visit to OSU interrupted by car backfire

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, the state’s second female governor, greets voters and their families during a campaign stop at Reser Stadium on Saturday.

Joe Wolf, Web & Mobile Manager

Editor’s Note: This article and social media post have been edited to remove references to the mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday upon further internal reflection and input from readers. 

While making a campaign stop at Reser Stadium on Saturday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown was interrupted by car backfire.

The event began like any other, with a crowd of more than 40 Corvallis community members and Oregon State University students gathering to welcome the Democratic governor seeking re-election. Her first question to the enthusiastic attendees, delivered with a wide grin, was “Who wants a selfie?”

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This festive atmosphere, complete with young children dressed in Halloween costumes, would soon take on a more ominous tone.

After little more than 10 minutes of photos, just before 2:45 p.m. the cracks sounded throughout the plaza, abruptly pausing the event as Brown’s security detail rushed her to a black SUV and drove away from the area. With no further disruptions, the visibly shaken crowd cheered as their governor returned minutes later.

In the brief speech that followed, Brown’s familiar message in support of firearm regulations fell heavily on the ears of her assembled supporters. She also mentioned the automatic voter registration bill she signed into law and her efforts to create clean energy jobs.

“There are a lot of wealthy interests trying to stop our progress, and I’m not going to let that happen,” Brown said during her speech.

In an interview after the rally, Brown stressed her anger at the prevalence of mass shootings in schools and places of worship around the country.

“Our leadership under the Trump administration is creating division in our country, and that division is creating violence,” Brown said.

Corvallis Mayor Biff Traber, who was in attendance at the event, said he had observed the vehicle that made the sound, but understood the concern the group experienced.

“How bad can it get when this seems normal?” Traber said. “We have to regulate guns.”

Traber came to support Brown, and said he believes many Corvallis voters are as strongly behind her as he is.

“We’ve seen what Gov. Brown has done in her short term and I expect to see a lot more,” Traber said.

To encourage voters to make that possible, Traber has been going door-to-door, canvassing for Brown. Despite young voters’ low turnout in most elections, Traber said he has met many young people who are excited about voting this time around.

“I think it is really critical students see the value of voting all the way down the ballot,” Traber said.

Brown who, according to Politico, won 59.5 percent of Benton County’s votes during the 2016 special election, believes college students and other young people will turn out for issues like gun regulations and climate change.

“I do not believe we can go forward to tackle greenhouse emissions without student voices,” Brown said.

The deadline to turn in ballots for the Oregon General Election is 8 p.m. on Nov. 6.