Protesters interrupt House vote in Salem

Renters rights protest at Oregon capitol

SALEM, Ore. – People voicing support for a $15 minimum wage, along with people protesting high rent and homelessness took their message to the Oregon Capitol on Thursday.

They set up tents on the Capitol steps, which they planned to keep there most of the day. Several people holding signs also went inside the Capitol building and started chanting and pounding on the House chambers doors, which disrupted the debate on raising the minimum wage.

Related: Oregon leading national debate on minimum wage

Lawmakers inside said they were concerned about their safety. 

"Madam speaker, I just want to make sure we have ample security," said Rep. Jim Weidner. "I don't know what's on the other side of the door, but I would hate to see anyone get hurt on this floor."

"I share your concern," House Speaker Tina Kotek replied. "State troopers are handling this."

The proceedings were stopped several times and state police were stationed near the doors.

The groups Right 2 Dream Too, 15 Now PDX, and Black Lives Matter were involved in the rally. They are pushing for a $15 minimum wage, saying the tiered system the House of Representatives is considering that would increase wages over time, based on where you live, isn’t enough.

They said they want Governor Kate Brown to “see the problem staring her in the face” and they are asking for rent control and a moratorium on no-cause evictions.

“There are people living on the streets, there are people being evicted from their homes. pushed out of our cities, wages are way too low and people can’t survive,” said Justin Norton-Kertson with 15 Now PDX.

Oregon's minimum wage is $9.25 an hour, which is one of the highest minimum wages in the nation. By 2022, it would go up to $14.75 in metro Portland, $13.50 in smaller cities and $12.50 in rural communities.

Contributing: The Associated Press

Background: Brown unveils Oregon minimum wage plan

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