By Amberlynn Montgomery (September 13, 2021)
Twice last week, Proud Boys gathered to harass kids for wearing masks on their first week of school. Many students reported being called all kinds of slurs and other names. Proud Boys and their supporters chanted USA and displayed white power symbols. A high school, a middle school, and an elementary school all went into lockdown as these adults attempted to enter the buildings. In order to curb the disruption to student learning, a Clark County judge issued an injunction at the district’s request to ban protest actions within a mile of any school district properties.
Proud Boys and other adults who don’t even have students attending the school planned to be there Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday on the second week of school. The injunction was impactful in that they did not show up (as far as I know) Wednesday or Thursday. (Although on Thursday, I read a few reports and saw videos of anti-maskers returning to their old target harassing local grocery stores. It came to fists at Target. I don’t 100% know if it is the same people who would have been at Skyview High school, but they are sending the same message.)
They DID plan to still protest at Skyview that second Friday despite the injunction, gathering just before the end of the school day so they can harass kids as they leave for the weekend. Of COURSE they see the injunction as illegally curtailing freedom of speech… especially as their interpretation of mask mandates are also that such mandates are illegal suppression.
That’s all pretty straight forward.
Here’s where things get complicated:
The local sheriff has publicly declared that the new state laws limiting police use of force (due to excessive force including deaths that protesters rallied against through most of 2020) means they can’t really do their job. They sent a letter stating this to everyone in the county, claiming that because of the law, they can’t respond to calls and can only respond to anything AFTER much violence has occurred.
It is clear that the sheriff’s interpretation is a political move. When the state took an inch the sheriff’s department declared they took a mile in order to turn support back in their direction. By declaring “the state won’t let us do anything” they can deflect anger and consequences for their actions and convince people that the use of force laws need to be repealed.
So, despite many people calling ahead of time declaring their fear for the safety of their children, the sheriff’s department responded by saying there’s nothing they can do. They are claiming they cannot enforce anything. As a result known violent offenders headed on over to the high school.
Vancouver does not have an active antifascist black block to oppose the white suprematist using mask mandates as an excuse to terrorize students and leaders of local schools. There are no giant national attention grabbing optics like there are across the river. They will go to Portland for a good brawl and then travel across a bridge to BBQ, drink, and harass locals daily. We LIVE with these people. We teach their children. They feel no need to hide who they are and what they are not only willing to do, but hoping to do.
Proud boys have openly threatened school board members in many of the local districts. Other groups with other names with innocent sounding names like Washougal Moms, function as the public organizing force behind much of the harassment and claim they are victimized by the district. An armed militia patrolled the beaches this week. I have no idea if this is related or how often it happens.
A curious person asked and was told they were ensuring no homeless encampment show up there. Visible houseless communities have ballooned in our town over the past year. Portland has criminalized and frequently harassed their houseless community so much that many have moved here. The cost of housing has skyrocketed. COVID has sent many more people out of jobs.
Every local office has at least one candidate that has extreme ideology.
COVID cases have been higher than they have for the entire pandemic these past few weeks and not a single person I know who was against vaccines before has been swayed to change their minds.
This is my beautiful city that I love. There is also so much good here. But this sad report, I fear, could be written about any city anywhere.
This is America.