As Governor Ralph Northam’s latest executive order limiting event capacity to 10 people went into effect earlier this week, some Virginians protested the governor’s orders through public hearings and demonstrations.
On Monday night, about 130 people attended a protest in Campbell County. “The Constitution, specifically the First Amendment, gives us the right to assemble, and the governor cannot take that away from us,” Campbell Militia Public Affairs Officer Aaron M. told The Virginia Star. Aaron declined to share his last name.
Daniel Abbott, an officer with the Campbell Militia, spoke at the event and said Northam’s restrictions threatened business. “If you’re going to make a threat like that, you should probably be willing to follow through on that threat,” Abbott said, according to The News and Advance. “So here’s your opportunity.”
According to Aaron, Congressman-elect Bob Good (R-VA-05), Delegate Matt Fariss (R-Appomattox), Campbell County Supervisor Charlie Watts, and Republican conventions consultant Diana Shores also spoke at the protest.
As the clock ticked past midnight and Northam’s curfew went into effect, someone in the crowd joked, “You’re all under arrest,” according to The News and Advance.
“The Executive Orders issued by this governor are destroying Virginians’ lives more than the virus itself. The businesses that are suffering are not the large stores, but the small brick-and-mortar companies making up the majority of the Commonwealth,” Aaron told The Star. “It is these businesses that are the heart and soul of rural Virginia counties, it is these businesses that employ so many in our community and it is these businesses that are the target of the Governor. This weaponizing of the Virginia Department of Health has to stop now!”
Earlier in December, the Campbell County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution declaring the county a “First Amendment Sanctuary.”
The Bedford County Board of Supervisors’ meeting again saw a large number of speakers supporting a First Amendment Sanctuary resolution on Monday night. 65 people attended the meeting, according to The Roanoke Times.
The resolution was not on the agenda, but supporters called on the board to add it to a future agenda.
Resident Bryan Devers told the board, “I’ve never done this before, but I’m here tonight because I’d like Bedford County to be a First Amendment Sanctuary county. Protect our rights as citizens, we shouldn’t be forced to follow rules that have shut down businesses, have forced people into hardship and caused undue stress.”
According to The Smith Mountain Eagle, the department said, “By holding a public meeting without requiring attendees to wear face coverings, maintain social distancing, and limit attendee numbers to less than 25 as required by the Orders, the Board and Chairman Sharp failed to take steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, as ordered by Governor Ralph S. Northam and State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, MD.”
In response, County Attorney Patrick Skelley II argued that the executive orders exempt government operations, and that the meetings weren’t technically gatherings.
On Tuesday evening, Supervisor Ronald Scearce responded to a county resident who had asked the board to reject Northam’s restrictions.
In a video of the meeting posted by the Danville Register and Bee, Scearce said, “For my family, we’re going to add some special civil disobedience traditions to our Christmas plan this year.”
Scearce said, “I plan on having as many of my extended family and friends as I can tolerate. And we will be without a mask. I hope the governor is listening.”
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