The more I think about last Saturday’s protests for and against Black Lives Matter, the more furious I am about Sheriff Dan Coverley’s bogus promise to establish a “free speech zone.”
As we all know, a handful of Black Lives Matter supporters was harangued and continually pushed from one spot to another by the pro-Sheriff mobs. A couple of BLM people were assaulted — there’s video — and complaints have been filed.
A true “free speech zone” would entail a cordoned off area for each side, enforced by deputies. Sheriff Coverley had nothing like that. Nor did his deputies do much of anything when hordes of gun-toting conservatives surrounded the tiny cluster of Black Lives Matter supporters, regardless of where they went.
The one person who really did defend free speech was a conservative, a veteran dressed in camouflage and carrying a gun, who had lost a leg in the military. He jumped in to stop a bully who attacked a BLM supporter and then loudly told his own side that he hadn’t come to Minden to stomp on people’s right to speak.
I really appreciate that guy, and I wish I had asked his name. He was a welcome relief from the mob hatred that dominated the place.
There was the Corey Lequieu, who was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison for his role in Ammon Bundy’s 41-day armed takeover of a wildlife refuge in Oregon. Lequeiu ranted to me about you “sick f***ks” who want to “loot and burn and murder.” Nice. Then there was the guy who told me that the whole problem was “education.” Oh yeah, now I remember: If God had wanted us to read, he would have given us an education.
The whole scene was crazy. As many as 800 loudmouths, many brandishing their AR-15s, chasing down at most 50 unarmed and non-violent supporters of Black Live Matters. Is this what we’ve come to?
I’m a devout supporter of free speech, even when people say really stupid stuff. That’s what this country is all about.
But I am disgusted by Sheriff Coverley’s phony pretentions. The sheriff is highly indignant that some people might not “trust” the Sheriff’s Office. After what I saw last Saturday, I wouldn’t trust the sheriff either — and I voted for him in 2018.
Edmund L. Andrews, a former reporter for the New York Times, has lived in Zephyr Cove since 2012.