Residents and officials in Bedford County, Virginia sent one message to Gov. Ralph Northam last December when they overwhelmingly approved a resolution in opposition to the governor’s gun ban plans and declared themselves a Second Amendment Sanctuary.
Many of those same folks sent another message to Northam on Monday evening, packing into the county supervisors meeting to express their opposition to Northam’s continued COVID-19 restrictions.
Despite an executive order limiting gatherings to 10 people or less, that went into effect at 12 a.m. Monday, 65 people were allowed in the boardroom by county officials and administration on Monday night.
The move came in spite of the county receiving a notice of violation from the Bedford County Health Department, part of the Central Virginia Health District, for similar conduct at the last Bedford County Board of Supervisors meeting on Nov. 23.
The Bedford County Board of Supervisors actually received a citation from the county health department after the November meeting, and they’ll likely be cited again after dozens showed up for Monday’s monthly meeting of the supervisors as well.
During public comment speakers urged supervisors to adopt a resolution like the one recently passed by Campbell County, which stated Campbell County officials would not enforce Gov. Northam’s executive orders and declared it a “first amendment sanctuary county.” This item was not on the meeting agenda, nor was it added.Some in the audience brandished signs reading, “Nullify Northam.”
“I’d like Bedford County to be a First Amendment sanctuary county,” said Bryan Devers. “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.”Forest resident Caleb Mast commended supervisors on their action passing a “Second Amendment sanctuary resolution” last year, as well as a resolution recognizing Bedford County’s local militia, and pressed them to consider passing a resolution similar to Campbell County’s.
“There’s room for liberty in this country,” said Carrie Gill. “There’s room for those who want to wear a mask… there’s room for those of us who don’t want to wear a mask.”
The push to declare Bedford County a “First Amendment Sanctuary” has so far not come to fruition. Members of the board of supervisors say that they plan on sending a message to Northam by supporting a state Senate bill introduced by a local Republican that would limit the governor’s emergency powers to no more than 30 days.
“The never-ending practice of governing by edict and press conference is bypassing the General Assembly and is not a narrowly tailored approach to managing an emergency,” the county’s statement said. “The unlimited timeframe for the Governor to act in an emergency is minimizing the effectiveness and purpose of the duly elected Delegates and Senators to represent their districts in the policymaking and public input process.”
While the county’s official response to Northam’s overreach doesn’t include a resolution or ordinance directly challenging the governor’s COVID-19 orders, the unofficial response is clear: they’re going to ignore as many of his restrictions as possible. COVID cases may be rising in Bedford County, which reported a record-high 70 cases one day earlier this week, but hospitalizations and deaths in the county are still flat. For now, anyway, Northam’s cure appears worse than the disease for many residents.
We’re seeing that same type of quiet disobedience all over the state of Virginia., by the way. I personally know several establishments that shall remain nameless that are ignoring the governor’s edict on shutting off alcohol sales at 10 pm, and the governor’s recently imposed late night curfew is widely disregarded, particularly outside of the state’s urban areas.
With Virginia holding statewide elections in 2021, I have a feeling that Northam and Democrats in control of the legislature are actually trying to hold themselves back from imposing the type of restrictions that they really want to put in place. Northam’s latest executive actions, for instance, imposed no new restrictions on restaurants or churches, and I suspect that has far more to do with political calculations than anything else.
Northam knows that he’s already facing widespread acts of defiance, and every heavy-handed order is going to not only spur on more civil disobedience, but will cost Democrats votes come November. He won’t let up completely, but the voices of discontent, like those heard in Bedford County on Monday, are making at least a small difference.