Their presence alone was a protest — Bedford County residents turned out to support a no shutdown resolution at the Monday Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting. The amount of people present exceeded the 25 person capacity from Governor Ralph Northam’s executive orders. However, BOS Chairman John Sharp told supporters that the resolution had never been on the agenda, and the BOS decided to not make a last minute change to that agenda. Nevertheless, Sharp said he supported the ideas behind the resolution.
“I understand you’re all patriots and you want to see us do something because you’re tired of Nanny Northam trying to shove stuff down our throat. I can assure you that this board stands with you right there,” Sharp said.
Sharp apologized to speakers who had been misled into thinking the resolution would be on the agenda. He expressed frustration that proponents hadn’t worked more closely with the BOS in advance of the meeting.
The no shutdown resolution calls for local law enforcement to resist state officers who try to enforce Northam’s COVID-19 executive orders, a move that is outside the BOS’ authority.
“We certainly believe that the governor is way outside his bounds on the First Amendment. We don’t live in a nanny state and it is not the role of government to protect us from ourselves,” Sharp said. “However, to demand this board to take an illegal action would make us no better than the governor.”
Sharp noted that an earlier version of the resolution called for defunding law enforcement if they did not comply, a clause that had been corrected.
Nevertheless, Sharp said, “[The proposed resolution] has not been corrected enough to where it is palatable to me, or I think, the majority of this board.”
Sharp said, “I suggest you all enjoy Thanksgiving just like you would normally. I’m having friends over. I suggest you not wear your mask because I never wear mine.”
Sharp continued, “But I’m not going to be bullied into supporting a resolution where I would be the one breaking the law, because I wouldn’t have any moral authority to stand there criticizing the governor for overstepping his bounds if I then overstep mine.”
“We have a responsibility to be better than that,” Sharp said.
Nearby Appomattox County officials are considering a similar no shutdown resolution with the law enforcement clauses removed. Such a resolution would be largely symbolic, but would allow officials to signal their political stance to constituents without violating state law.
During the public comments, supporter Isaiah Knight highlighted the proliferation of symbolic Second Amendment Sanctuary resolutions across Virginia localities. He said that the resolutions lacked teeth, allowing those localities to become “hotbeds for illegal gun seizures.”
Knight said, “That is why it is vital [to] include a call upon the sheriff to arrest and detain anyone who attempts to infringe upon our rights.”
“Unless we start acting, the tyrant in Richmond is going to continue to commit treason,” Knight said. “Be courageous. Defend the Constitution. The time is now that we the people take back the power and restore Virginia to her rightful place as a bastion of liberty.”
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