The Enemy Among Us

A few weeks ago I wrote about the county mask mandate where I live now and the many people who turned out to protest it. The police had declared they would not enforce the mandate. Even so, I started seeing a lot more people wearing masks, so I thought we’d made some progress. But maybe not.

This week the county health director resigned. However, I didn’t know until yesterday that she and her family had received threats and harassment. I learned about the threats and harassment only because it was reported in St. Louis media; the local newpaper didn’t bother to mention it.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Amber Elliott took over as director of the St. Francois County public health department in January, excited to take the position after serving five years as assistant director and a communicable disease nurse for the department.

Elliott was looking forward to tackling issues such as opioid addiction, lead poisoning and childhood trauma with her staff of nearly two dozen employees.

She did not expect that within a few months her small health department about an hour south of St. Louis would be overwhelmed with fighting a pandemic. But what has been even more surprising are the threats and harassment she and her family have faced as she works to protect her community.

“There’s been many over the course of eight months, to personal attacks on Facebook calling me every name in the book, to calling me and cussing me and saying I’m stupid and I’m incompetent and I don’t know what I’m doing, of course the pandemic is fake, and all those type of things,” Elliott said.

People told her they were following her, that they were watching her. They took pictures of her, her husband and her two elementary school-age children in public and posted them online with remarks she doesn’t want to repeat.

Citing the need to protect her children and after receiving another promising job offer as a nurse, Elliott resigned last week as director. Her last day will be Nov. 20.

It turns out that Elliott is the 12th local health director to resign in Missouri since the pandemic hit, according to Kelley Vollmar, chair of the Missouri Association of Local Public Health Agencies. Vollmar also has been threatened.

Vollmar said she has experienced harassment being a director as well. As a domestic violence survivor, she had worked to keep the location of her home private, but people searched her tax records, divorce records, committees she’s served on and posted information online to determine where she lived, she said. …

… A gun shop owner in the county uses his Facebook page to attack her credibility, warning that gun owners will “decide they’ve had enough of the lies.” Someone, she said, called her husband saying she was out with another man. People posted pictures of her on social media, altered to make her look like Adolf Hitler or comparing the health department to Nazis.

I’m assuming most of these thugs are Trump supporters. So our real-world brownshirts who support the fascist dictator wannabe Trump ridicule a health director by comparing her to a Nazi. Work that one out. Not exactly geniuses, these folks.

The Post-Dispatch article goes on to discuss health directors and other officials around the country who have been threatened and harassed for doing their jobs and trying to keep people safe. These thugs live among us, and they aren’t going to evaporate if Donald Trump loses the election.

Yesterday the U.S. reported a world record of more than 100,000 COVID-19 cases in single day. We’re Number One!

St. Francois County is currently averaging 65 new cases of covid per 100,000 residents per day. Most of the people I know here are over 65, and a lot of them have been pretty much housebound since last spring to stay safe from the pandemic. And the county mask mandate has expired and will not be renewed.

If we can get through the next few days without widespread violence related to the election, we’re going to be extremely lucky.

“Militia groups and other armed nonstate actors pose a serious threat to the safety and security of American voters,” said the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, a nonprofit organization that researches political violence and has tracked more than 80 extremist groups in recent months. The project’s report said Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Oregon “are at highest risk of increased militia activity in the election and post-election period.”

Unfounded rumors spreading in right-wing circles on Facebook and throughout conservative media have fixated for weeks on the notion that civil war is nigh. The longtime radio and TV commentator Glenn Beck has plied his millions of followers with the idea that the left has an Election Day “playbook” for civil strife.

“The Left” has no such “playbook.” This is not to say that no U.S. leftie ever committed an act of violence, but the Left right now just wants people to vote and for the votes to be counted. It’s the Right that is much more likely to disrupt the election. See, for example, Self-Proclaimed ‘Proud Boy’ Arrested for Threatening to Blow Up North Dakota Polling Place: Police.

And this:

In Michigan, two right-wing operatives were charged with voter intimidation after robocalls that falsely warned that the names of mail-in voters would be placed in a public database used for arrest warrants and debt collection.

I’m not sure what’s to be done with this situation. It’s going to be with us for a long, long time.

Update: This just reported.

Joe Biden’s presidential campaign canceled a Friday event in Austin, Texas, after harassment from a pro-Trump contingent. …

… But when the Biden campaign bus drove to Austin, it was greeted by a blockade of pro-Trump demonstrators, leading to what one Texas House representative described as an escalation “well beyond safe limits.”…

… Historian Dr. Eric Cervini was driving to help with the Biden campaign stop when he filmed a line of pickup trucks along the highway, many of them flying Trump flags. The drivers were “waiting to ambush the Biden/Harris campaign bus as it traveled from San Antonio to Austin,” Cervini tweeted.

“These Trump supporters, many of whom were armed, surrounded the bus on the interstate and attempted to drive it off the road,” he alleged. “They outnumbered police 50-1, and they ended up hitting a staffer’s car.” …

Footage from a CBS affiliate in Austin shows Trump supporters with signs and bullhorns surrounding the bus when it parked, with one person screaming that Biden was a communist.

Armed protesters against pandemic safety measures rally at the state capitol in Lansing, Michigan on April 15, 2020.

6 thoughts on “The Enemy Among Us

  1. I've been saying that there will be blood for months.

    And it looks like I might, tragically, be right.  NO!  Be CORRECT!!!  NOT right!  CORRECT!!!

    A time like this is one of the reasons that I've been for gun control since I was a wee chubby child.

    It would appear that over one-third of the citizenry of this nation have become unhinged from reality, and are in the process of unchaining their crazy-inner-armed-yahoo-cracker Kraken!

    The 79 days between Election Day and Inauguration Day should be niiice aaaaaaaaand caaaaaaaaalm…

    So chill out and relax.

    Do what I'm gonna do!

    Get a couple of dozen cases of hard-hootch, a couple of pounds of hash, and enjoy the Thanksgiving and Christmas (CAN TOO SAY IT!  tRUMP's still presiDUNCE) holidays.

    This year, with real live-ammo fireworks!!!!!

    'I'll gladly pay you back on Wednesday for the cash to buy some hard-hootch and hash today…'

    Ok, I can't pay you back…

    So please.



  2. I’m assuming most of these thugs are Trump supporters. So our real-world brownshirts who support the fascist dictator wannabe Trump ridicule a health director by comparing her to a Nazi. Work that one out. Not exactly geniuses, these folks.

    True – but that's also what worries me.

    If this nation was *sane*, these not-too-bright people wouldn't find any support. People who derided, and fought, against scientifically-sound public health demands would be roundly mocked and ridiculed, and *no one* would suggest that public health rules were assaults on freedom.

    I'd love to go back to 2000, and survey people. "So, imagine this: to board an airplane, you'll need a passport, or a state issued ID with the same requirements as a passport; you'll have to be photophraphed by an X-ray that lets people look at your naked body; you'll have to take off your shoes and all metal, and, at the slightest pretext, you could be pulled aside and held for hours before being allowed to depart. Also, due to a pandemic, based on top-notch medical advice people will be pushing for wearing of a cloth mouth/nose covering to protect others from coughs/sneezes, or just the saliva droplets that come when you talk, or even breathe; and to avoid large gatherings. Some businesses would be temporarily closed, or opened with limited capacity, until the pandemic is under control.

    "Which of these seems like a horrible infringement on freedom? Which one would have armed people protesting government repression, and sending death threats to the people who were suggesting/enforcing these restrictions?"

    And I don't think we have to question which would seem more ridiculous. Sure, people would assume that the airliner issue was security, but it would still seem a bit gestapo-like, and they'd be all "what, were there a rash of airline hijackings? And *this* was the best response?" and if you said "well, there were several on one day, but no attempts after that," they'd stay stunned.

    I think Republicans would be *insulted* by the idea that right wingers would protest basic public health measures.

    And yet, here we are, because the political dialogue in this nation has gone from "generally reality based" to where reality is considered no better than  "Republicans wishful thinking".

  3. The FBI has been fairly aggressive about domestic terrorism. They intercepted the group that targeted Governor Whitmer before anyone was injured. Court filings show they had the group infiltrated from multiple sources. I'm hopeful that the feds are way ahead of the thugs and will drop the hammer on these vermin before there's blood.

    There's no way to anticipate lone-wolf nut cases like Rittenhouse, but the solution is life behind bars. If there's random bloodshed, juries will be unrelenting. These goons operate in a bubble of like-minded fanatics who thrive on conspiracy theories. The court environment I'm familiar with isn't friendly to legal defenses based on fervently-held fantasies. 

    These are mostly cowards who feel strong in groups. They like to inflict pain when they are not at risk. The way to end "rat-packing" is to make it risky and inflict pain on the bully. The legal system is the great equalizer, not because it's just but because it creates risk in an environment where demonstrations of aggression work against the perp. His fate is in the hands of a jury comprised of women and minorities who have POWER. This is kryptonite to these clowns – not just the ones on trial but the comrades who fantasize about a glorious death like a Klingon warrior. The idea of slowly dying anonymously of old age behind bars tormented by people of the 'other' clans bursts the bubble. 

    The answer is to identify the goons – charge them. Don't let them out on bail. Publicize the trial. Put them away. The others will not be inspired – they will fade away.

    • At the very least, that clown who struck the smaller white car while accosting the Biden tour bus will be hearing from white car's insurance company, and hopefully law enforcement. With smartphones and the ease of videos, things like license plates should be easy to track down.

      Agree that you simply cannot let the bullies gain an inch. If they're using tech to organize and terrorize, tech has to be used back at these people.

  4. Trump declares 1 November to be ‘national day of remembrance for those killed by illegal aliens’

    I mean, really?

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