Monday, January 11, 2021

Protests weren't limited to Washington, D.C.: many protested state and local governments

The protesting and (in some cases) invasion of government offices wasn't limited to Washington, D.C. last week. Protests were held in state capitals across the nation, along with some protests on the local level. A local government meeting in Shasta County, California, was overrun with protesters the day before the Capitol riots. The Shasta County incident sheds a spotlight on the views of many rural residents who didn't make the road trip to Washington, but agreed in principle with many of the Capitol protesters.

"The Shasta County Board of Supervisors had planned to meet virtually Jan. 5 because of an uptick in coronavirus cases. The supervisors’ chambers in Redding were closed. Seats had been removed. The public speakers’ microphone was disabled," Hailey Branson-Potts reports for the Los Angeles Times. "But, in protest, a newly elected supervisor unlocked the doors. In poured dozens of people, unmasked, to vent their fury. Three supervisors attending virtually watched from afar as threats flew amid the speeches."

In rural, northern California, an increasingly conservative region where many want to secede and form a new state called Jefferson, "the kind of anger and distrust of the government that Trump has fomented is on full display," Branson-Potts reports. "In some ways, the rhetoric in that officially closed county government facility carried a hint of the rage that would boil over 2,800 miles away when pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol the next day . . . Among the president’s supporters in Washington last week were men carrying the yellow-and-green State of Jefferson flag with its pair of Xs, called a 'double cross,' that represent a sense of rural abandonment."

Such protests and riots will likely happen again "because some residents believe there is great political utility in making government officials believe that potential violence could become all too real."

"In Shasta County, where Trump beat Biden by 33 percentage points, the supervisors’ meetings have become a prime venue for outrage. Accusations of treason and socialism are commonplace. So, too, is talk of revolution and civil war," Branson-Potts reports. 

"When the ballot box is gone, there is only the cartridge box. You have made bullets expensive. But luckily for you, ropes are reusable," Timothy Fairfield, 44, told the Shasta County supervisors last week. 

Carlos Zapata, who also attended the meeting, told Branson-Potts: "We have to make politicians scared again . . . If politicians do not fear the people they govern, that relationship is broken."

Supervisor Leonard Moty, a former Redding police chief, said local residents have becoming increasingly blatant about threatening government employees since the pandemic began, including announcing the home address of the county health officer: "They politicized the virus. The pandemic. You saw a culmination of it by a president who incited a whole group of people to march to the Capitol and do bad things. I think we have a number of people in this county who follow his voice. Who knows what they will do?"

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