A group of nearly 200 concerned citizens who identify as “Elbert County STANDS UP” invited Elbert County Sheriff Tim Norton and Elbert County Commissioner Chris Richardson to attend a meeting at …
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A group of nearly 200 concerned citizens who identify as “Elbert County STANDS UP” invited Elbert County Sheriff Tim Norton and Elbert County Commissioner Chris Richardson to attend a meeting at Kiowa Creek Community Church Jan. 31, and demanded to know whether Norton and commissioners would be complying with state mandates regarding COVID-19, which group members feel are a violation of their constitutional rights.
“The concern, basically, was: Were they going to uphold the Constitution in our county?” said Maggie Witherbee, who organized the group in December and has orchestrated four meetings over the ensuing weeks. “A lot of people feel the emergency order has no basis and isn’t sufficiently backed up with facts and information.”
The group believes the mask mandate is a violation of their personal rights and that there hasn’t been scientific information that it is effective. They also believe that making students wear masks and restricting in-person learning is dangerous, and that closing of businesses is not within Gov. Jared Polis’ authority.
“I was invited to attend the meeting and answer questions,” said Richardson. “We have a local pastor who is concerned about the right to worship, and a group of people who gathered out of frustration and concern for what’s going on in the world right now. We will always be available to any community members who invite us for open dialogue.”
Richardson assured attendees that Elbert County has tried to protect personal freedoms during the pandemic, and has worked hard to ensure the safety of residents in the county.
Sheriff Norton said he was also invited to the meeting to answer questions.
“Basically they asked if I was going to enforce the mask mandate, and I said no,” said Norton. “I haven’t enforced it yet and I’m not going to start now.”
Attendees heard from Laurie Clark, a trustee for the town of Monument, then saw videos about the COVID-19 vaccine and its perceived dangers. The group went on to ask Richardson and Norton questions about how they would handle hypothetical scenarios that might occur in the future. They cited the story about Denmark killing millions of mink in response to a coronavirus outbreak, and questioned what would happen if the state of Colorado, for some reason, ordered all of the cows to be killed.
Richardson answered good-naturedly with: “Have you ever called a brand inspector from the state and known them to come out the same day?”
Norton said the best and most effective way for community members to help protect their community is to join the sheriff’s posse. Posse members help with tasks that don’t require law enforcement personnel, such as traffic control.
The group had originally considered taking legal action against Polis and the state of Colorado, but according to Witherbee, they have decided to take action within their community instead.
“We’ve created some community groups that will help us maintain an independent community, in the event that restrictions become so harsh that we might not be able to go to the grocery store or travel without an immunization card,” said Witherbee.
Richardson said members of the community are always encouraged to get involved with their community.
“Get involved with the posse. Start community watch groups,” said Richardson. “We will support in any way we can those that want to support our local businesses or groups taking care of each other.”
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