COVID-19 Media Briefing: Protestors Are ‘Vigilantes’

Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers speaks during Tuesday’s Zoom briefing. | Image: Zoom

Reporters were expecting a briefing on COVID-19. Instead, they heard an official rant against citizens peacefully exercising their First and Second Amendment rights. 

June 9, 2020


From Tuesday’s Snohomish County, Washington COVID-19 media briefing:

  • County Executive Dave Somers speaks out on citizen vigilantes
  • Snohomish County is moving its local COVID-19 data to the state health website.

Vigilante justice

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“Vigilante justice is not welcome in Snohomish County.” Those words came from County Executive Dave Somers during the coronavirus briefing.

Somers referred to the May 31 incident in which citizen vigilantes, some carrying semi-automatic weapons, gathered in the city of Snohomish, saying they were there to help protect against a rumored threat of leftist groups looting during protests related to the death of George Floyd. It was just a rumor; nothing happened.

City of Snohomish Police Chief Keith Rogers has been demoted and reassigned after he told the Snohomish City Council that the event had a “festive air.” He’s been replaced by Snohomish County Sheriff’s Captain Robert Palmer.

Somers said the group was mostly young men, drinking on the sidewalks and riding in cars “burning rubber” in the streets. He also noted “the presence of white nationalists” at the event.

“We do not need citizen vigilante justice to spring up,” added the county executive. “We were very fortunate things did not escalate.”

Changes in COVID-19 reporting

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Beginning Friday, Snohomish County will no longer report data on new coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations on the county health website. Instead, you will be able to find it on the Washington State Department of Health Data Dashboard link.

Chief Health Officer Dr. Chris Spitters says his staff now “needs to focus on the measures of our success (combatting the virus) and being ready for Phase 3, which could come in less than three weeks if the outbreak continues to decline … Read more. 

100 armed vigilantes rouse fear, soul-searching in Snohomish

Self-appointed guards saved the city from looters, the mayor said. A chorus of citizens saw the opposite.

Monday, June 8, 2020

HeraldNet.com, SNOHOMISH — It was a festive night of tailgating and celebratory pleasantries, with “no really harsh terms or anything,” the atmosphere you expect at the start of a parade, Snohomish Police Chief Keith Rogers said.

But over two nights of heated and heartbroken comments at public city council meetings last week, Snohomish city leaders endured four hours of scathing criticism from citizens, teachers, students and business owners who saw something far more sinister last Sunday.

“I can’t imagine someone could’ve said that with a straight face, because what I saw was the farthest from festive tailgating,” said Terry Lippincott, a longtime resident and president of Snohomish Friends of the Library. “I saw intimidation. I saw people being afraid. I saw what looked like to me to be an absolute disaster waiting to happen.”

They said the mayor and police chief welcomed armed vigilantes — one waving a Confederate flag, some flaunting patches of a hate group’s coded insignia on tactical gear — as they occupied First Street’s historic downtown with military-style rifles to “protect” local boutiques from alleged leftist looting threats that never materialized.

In meetings held over the video app Zoom, the police chief and Mayor John Kartak faced a chorus of citizens calling on them to resign for allowing a gun-carrying crowd to publicly drink alcohol, intimidate citizens and tarnish the city’s reputation. Some in the armed group were later identified as members of the alt-right.

It “hijacked the narrative” of what was supposed to be a night of protest against racism, said council member Judith Kuleta.

Many of those expressing shame, anger and sadness this week were teachers and students at Snohomish High School, who have been a constant presence at nightly local rallies against police brutality toward African Americans … Read more. 


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