Republicans call for tolerance after alleged harassment at county fair | Guest Opinion

by Nathan Butler, Chair of the SJC Republican Party and Vice Chair Lynda Lee Gerpheide, State Committeeman Rick Boucher, State Committeewoman Cindy Carter, Treasurer Alex Gavora, Michelle Loftus, Mike Gallagher, Barry Cave, Veronica Romey, Dave Vandaveer, Linda Noreen, Sandra Frinell

We call upon everyone everywhere to practice what our society so often preaches: tolerance and open mindedness. Everyone is tolerant of their friends. It is how you treat people with whom you disagree that defines tolerance and open mindedness.

Over the last week our volunteers at the Republican fair booth were:

· Picketed by about 15 people, mostly polite, but one got in a yelling match with an elderly Republican who happened to be walking by.

· Repeatedly called racists or bigots, and many other labels — by people who do not know us.

· We were told multiple times that “there’s no way they [“resistors”] are any threat to women,” yet one of the women working in our booth was repeatedly harassed by the same man, to the point where she had to file a police report.

· All our people experienced harassment, and because SJC Republican Party has more female leaders than male, much of that harassment was directed at women in our booth.

· One woman said, “I had to beg a man multiple times to leave the cardboard cut out [of Trump] alone. I finally stood right next to him by the cutout, looked up and started saying loudly, ‘Please leave. Please leave us alone,’ over and over until people started looking. He was much taller than I and certainly stronger… He then walked off laughing…”

· Our cutout of Trump was in fact poked at and attempts at vandalizing it occurred multiple times. Multiple people stated that they hoped he would be assassinated. Just a few months ago Republicans were in fact shot at, and some wounded, so even in jest, this was very poor taste.

· Some had their employment threatened, were spat at and repeatedly given the finger. Some felt we deserved such harassment so that now we can “know what it’s like to be black.”

· We were worried about our neighbors in nearby booths, but several of them came by and apologized to us because they could not believe how we were treated.

We are hardly the first to be treated this way, but we condemn all such behavior, whether directed at us or at others. We are disappointed that events in far off places were used to justify aggressive and bullying behavior towards their neighbors. We are grateful to those who were polite, even friendly, and there were many of those too. But such hostile behavior was far from isolated.

We do not believe the origin of this was the San Juan County Democrats. This was unprompted hatred, justified based on perceived anger and hate in others. We are proud of the polite and generous way that the men and women manning our booth handled such hostility.

Thank you to the hundreds of conservatives who came by and expressed their support. They were coming through all day, all week, and were glad that we were there. There are thousands of under-represented conservatives in this county; human beings who every day come into work and keep their heads down because they don’t want to lose their jobs, or have their cars vandalized, or otherwise be harassed for practicing democracy.

But frankly, we are tired of attempts to bully us while complaining about bullying. You have every right to say what you believe, just as we do. But just notch down the hysteria please, and remember that we are neighbors.