An angry and violent mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters were still in the midst of a deadly siege of the U.S. Capitol when a group of about 40 people held a flag-waving, pickup-driving protest of the presidential election results in Oak Harbor.
The event, planned by the Island County Republicans, was poorly timed. Peaceful protests are a fundamental and traditional practice of democracy in America. But holding such an event while homespun terrorists attacked the heart of American democracy was concerning and could be viewed as a show of support for the insurrection occurring in the other Washington.
Perhaps some of the participants didn’t realize at the time the extent of the siege in Washington, D.C. One woman in Oak Harbor told a reporter that she heard only a few people managed to get into the Capitol Building.
Both events were held to protest of the certification of the electoral results.
It’s hard to imagine all of the protesters were clueless that one of the biggest events in American history was occurring simultaneously.
A moment of silence, a prayer for the Union and those in harm’s way would have been appropriate, more so than signs and yells supporting the leader of an insurrection.
While there were no reports of injuries, the Oak Harbor protest wasn’t without incident. The Oak Harbor police chief said officers were called to address a shoving match that started when a man made a comment about another man’s wife. A local resident also claimed that he was attacked by protesters while filming them. No arrests were made.
And only one of the protesters was seen wearing a mask. The county’s Public Health director confirmed that the unmasked people packed together on the side of the highway were violating the state’s COVID-19 rules.
The police chief said he drove by the flag-wavers a few times, but nobody was cited for violating the rules, nor were they advised to follow them.
The people who organized the Black Lives Matter protests in Oak Harbor last summer worked with police before each event and invited officers to be on scene. In contrast, the Republicans — who proclaimed themselves the “law-and-order party” — didn’t alert police to an event that violated more rules and norms than all of the local BLM events combined.
While the election is irrevocably over, the FBI warns of further violence throughout the entire nation related to the inauguration. Violence should not be allowed to occur on Whidbey or anywhere else in a nation whose democratic institutions may be more fragile than anyone imagined.