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Audience member of barrel racing event at fairgrounds refused to wear mask, behaved in abusive manner

A refusal to wear a mask at a Central Oregon Barrel Racing Association event, followed by a refusal to leave when asked to resulted in an arrest Saturday.

A spectator was taken into custody by Prineville Police Department officers at the Crook County Fairgrounds and charged with second-degree criminal trespass after reportedly being rude and profane to a security guard, refusing to comply with state requirements, and then refusing to leave after being asked to do so.

The name of the individual charged was not released by authorities.

A timeline and overview of the incident was established with an incident report from Prineville Police Department, statements from COBRA, Crook County Fairgrounds and a statement from PPD Chief Dale Cummins.

According to the Prineville Police Department incident report from Saturday, Nov. 14 at 12:30, the PPD officers responded to 1280 South Main Street in regard to a criminal trespass complaint. This was the second request for response to this address, in regard to the same individual. On the first incident, PPD responded and contacted security. After conferring with the senior security official, they advised they didn't need police response because the adult female had left the property.

When PPD was called to assist security at the Crook County Fairgrounds the second time, they responded due to the female returning and refusing to leave, resulting in the charge of second-degree criminal trespass. The PPD officers responded and recorded the incident on body cams.

According to the report, PPD officers encouraged the female to leave on her own, but she refused and told the officers to take her to jail. Officers explained that she had to leave the property for the remainder of this event and she again refused. Both officers encouraged the female to leave, but she continued to refuse.

After all attempts to resolve the incident failed, officers placed the female in handcuffs, and transported her off fairgrounds property. Once in custody and exiting fairgrounds property, officers asked her one more time if she would be willing to stay off Crook County Fairgrounds property and she then said she would. Arrangements were made to get her vehicle off fairgrounds property, and she was released with a citation for second-degree criminal trespassing.

According to the Central Oregon Barrel Racing Association Facebook site, the guidelines for mask wearing and social distancing are posted on their website. Also, according to their website, the organization made the following statement Sunday morning regarding the incident that occurred at the event on Saturday. "Central Oregon Barrel Racing Association is very saddened by the incident that happened at our race yesterday. The mask guidelines of Crook County Fairgrounds were posted on our website, Facebook page and entry form and made known to all members prior to yesterday's event. We appreciate the effort made by a majority yesterday and are disappointed that one person's actions have shadowed the great day that we had yesterday in the arena."

They went on to say that COBRA has a long and positive relationship with the Crook County Fairgrounds and "we will fully cooperate with any investigation. We would like to clear up any misinformation about the events that took place yesterday."

COBRA added that an individual refused to wear their mask, even though everyone was aware of the policies prior to yesterday's event.

"That person was rude and profane to the security officers and refused to leave. They were given multiple opportunities by both security guards and police to leave the fairgrounds and they refused. The Prineville Police Department gave the individual many opportunities to leave and they were simply doing their job."

COBRA emphasized that they were not arrested for not wearing a mask.

"COBRA does not condone this type of behavior and we fully support the Prineville Police Department and the Crook County Fairgrounds. When attending events there, we are committed to abiding by their policies and rules and encourage all participants to do the same.

Please understand this was one individual, and we hope it does not reflect on COBRA as an association."

COBRA added that this is a trying time for everyone and "we as an association are just trying to keep our events happening and provide some fun for everyone doing what we love."

The Crook County Fairgrounds also made a statement on Sunday morning about the incident.

"On Saturday, there was an incident at the fairgrounds, that is being talked about on social media. One of our security officers asked a patron to please comply with state requirements. He repeatedly gave her the opportunity to comply, which allows us to stay open and serve our community."

The statement went on to say that her actions toward him became abusive and she began cursing at him.

"We work hard to provide a positive, family friendly, experience at our fairgrounds. The patron was making others very uncomfortable. The security guard asked her to please leave, he told her he would need to call the police, but she wouldn't go. When the police arrived, they gave her an opportunity to leave. They removed her after she continued to refuse to leave. No member of our fair board had anything to do with the outcome, that choice was made by security and the police. Special thanks to the police, for dealing with the situation professionally."

According to a statement on PPD Facebook page on Monday, PPD Chief Dale Cummins wrote, "Recently, there was a posting about someone getting arrested for not wearing a mask. Since it has become a hot topic, I wanted to advise our citizens on my policy regarding the mandates. Officers are not arresting people for not wearing a mask. However, officers will support our local businesses and events by enforcing the laws, such as trespassing, when necessary to do so."

He went on to say, "I completely understand the frustration and anger associated with the mask issue, the lock downs, and other mandates imposed by the governor. Although our policy is to educate individuals on what the mandates are, the state is now taking a different approach. Your local businesses are struggling to survive because of the restrictions imposed, and although you personally may not face punitive sanctions based on your personal choices, the businesses are in danger."

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