Oregon Secession Petition Withdrawn After 'Threats' To Organizers

The Oregon Secession Act originally required 1,000 signatures to begin the process toward getting on the ballot.

Published Nov 11, 2016

Image Via Cuksis

A petition calling for Oregon to secede from the U.S. was withdrawn a day after being submitted to state officials.

The Oregon Secession Act, at it was called, was created by writer Christian Trejbal and attorney Jennifer Rollins, both based out of Portland, the state's largest city. It would have required 1,000 signatures to receive an official title and summary, which would have made it it eligible to become a petition.

According to state law for the petition to make it onto the ballot, it would have required six percent of the number of votes cast in the most recent gubernatorial election. In this case, it would have been 88,184.

But on 11 November 2016, Trejbal and Rollins said in a statement that they filed paperwork for it to be withdrawn with the Oregon secretary of state's office. They also said they had received threats over their petition:

Like most Oregonians, we watched with horror and dismay as peaceful political protests became violent riots that included assaults and property damage. We do not want to be associated with such behavior, but too many people who committed these acts were jumping onto our petition.

Meanwhile, we received threats and vulgar communications from a shocking number of Oregonians and Americans opposed to even discussing our suggestion. We will not continue to expose our families, our friends and our colleagues to that.

We thank the many Oregonians and people from across the country who sent messages of support or just interest in discussing the idea. They give us hope that after the current furor calms, there might be space for civic conversation the important issues confronting Oregon, the West and all of America.

Several cars and businesses were reportedly damaged during a demonstration on 10 November protesting Donald Trump's election to the presidency. Local police blamed "Black Bloc groups" for the unrest. Organizers from Portland's Resistance, which has already organized anti-Trump protests, have said they were not behind the property damage.

Rollins and Trejbal's petition originally accused the federal government of being "a poor steward and manager of public resources" for Oregon, and also leaves the door open for the prospect of Oregon's being joined in their effort by other North American states and provinces:

The Governor and Legislature shall actively pursue Oregon’s peaceful secession from the United State of America. They shall seek secession alone or in conjunction with other states and Canadian provinces that seek to form a new nation, including but not limited to California, Washington, Hawaii, Nevada, Alaska and British Columbia.

If Oregon secures secession, the petition declared, the state's governor (currently Democrat Kate Brown) and legislature should then "support convening a constitutional convention" with any other states that may wish to join them. The petition also calls for non-partisan elections for both prospective convention delegates and for all future elections if the state were to become independent.

Neither of the organizers commented on the petition before sending the statement announcing its withdrawal. Trejbal had described Republican Donald Trump's victory in the 2016 presidential election as the last straw" that moved him to file the petition.

While Trump's opponent, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, won Oregon in 8 November election by garnering 50% of the popular vote, Trump actually captured more counties, winning 28 of them compared to just eight for Clinton.

According to state law, a petition that garnered 1,000 signatures would be eligible to go onto the Oregon ballot in 2018. However, the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled against the idea of secession as a right held by states.

The idea of an independent Pacific Northwest has also been promoted by groups supporting the establishment of a separate nation called Cascadia, with territory including portions of Alaska, British Columbia, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah, and Washington state. Residents of some of the Oregon's southern counties have been among those proposing the establishment of a 51st U.S. state, Jefferson.

A separate secession effort, Yes California, has seen an upswing in interest following Donald Trump's election. That campaign calls for the state to vote on the issue in a 2019 referendum.

Arturo Garcia is a former writer for Snopes.

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