Last Wednesday saw a rare occurrence in the City of Colusa: an organized protest.
A group of eight people, most of them members of the group “Indivisible Colusa,” gathered in front of the Colusa County Courthouse to protest President Donald J. Trump’s firing of James Comey, the former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The group of protesters waved American flags and held signs that said, “What does Russia have on Trump?” and “Special prosecution now! Truth matters,” and “We deserve the truth.”
The protest constituted an unusual sight in Colusa, according to City Councilman Tom Reische.
“We haven’t seen many with a whole group getting together like this. There’s been some little tiny ones, but I think those have all been election stuff, with maybe one or two people trying to get their views across,” Reische said.
When Reische saw the group gathered in front of the courthouse, he said that he walked up to them to see what they had to say.
“It was peaceful. They don’t have the same views I do, by any means, but I went up and heard some of what they had to say,” said Reische. “They have the right to do that. It’s just not every day that someone does that in the City of Colusa.”
According to Indivisible Colusa co-founder Jennifer Roberts, who moved to Arbuckle from San Francisco eight years ago, the “pop-up protest” was the first such event the all-local group has organized and added that more are likely to come.
“On Wednesday, early in the day, there started to be calls put out to get out and “protest” the firing of Comey, Roberts said.
The group was calling for “an independent prosecutor so (the investigation into the firing) is separate from politics.”
While many Indivisible groups across the nation took to the offices of their senators or representatives to stage protests over Comey’s ousting, Roberts said that the location of Colusa County’s representative – Rep. John Garamendi – was simply too far away to be feasible. Instead, they chose to set up in front of the courthouse.
“It seemed like the courthouse was the place in the county that best-represented justice and truth, and that’s where we set up, and thought we would make a stand,” Roberts said. “None of us really knew how it would be received. I was actually very pleased and surprised. We had honks in favor, waves, and pleasant talks… along with a lot of looks of surprise. There were no real negative comments, which wasn’t surprising to me. In the time that I’ve lived in this county, it has struck me as a live and let live place.”
The Indivisible movement is Roberts’ first foray into political activism – and the first for the majority of the twelve active members of the “progressive leaning, though non-partisan” Indivisible Colusa group, she said. They are following the style of grass-roots advocacy set forth in the “Indivisible Guide” (put together by a husband-wife pair of former congressional staffers): local defensive congressional advocacy.
“The general belief in the movement is that our best chance to affect change is to actively communicate with our representatives in Congress and the Senate,” Roberts said.
The mission statement for the national movement is to “resist the Trump agenda,” though Roberts said that the Colusa group was working on their own guiding mission statement that differs from that.
“Resisting the Trump agenda is not necessarily what we want (as our guiding principle). We really want to be non-partisan,” Roberts said. “We are concerned with policies and issues and… the effects they have on residents here.”
At the top of that list is immigration and the effects that immigration policy will have on the residents of Colusa County.
“Immigration is the top issue here. We are hearing that people are afraid,” Roberts said.
The local groups other top concerns include healthcare and the American Health Care Act
So far, Indivisible Colusa has helped to get Rep. John Garamendi (D) to put on a town hall meeting in Williams. They are also currently encouraging him to “adopt” Rep. Tom McClintock’s (R) neighboring Fourth Congressional District and holding a town hall meeting there, Roberts said, because he “isn’t defending his vote on the American Health Care Act.”
Adopt a District, which is encouraged in the Indivisible Guide as an answer for representatives who “won’t do their jobs and have a town hall,” brings a representative from a neighboring district in to hold one.
McClintock, whose district consists of Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Mariposa, and Tuolumne counties, and portions of Fresno, Madera, Nevada, and Placer counties, has held six town hall meetings in his district since December. His most recent town hall was held in Loomis on April 9. The Auburn Journal reported that McClintock faced hundreds of angry constituents there, and defended the American Health Care Act, but McClintock has not held a town hall meeting since he voted in favor of the ACHA, which passed the House with a 217-213 vote on May 4.
While the Indivisible Colusa group is small, consisting of 12 active members and another 20 who are less active, and based in a county where 53 percent of voters cast their ballots for Trump (and under 40 percent for Clinton), Roberts said that the group has been growing organically, and that it had spurned offers for help from other Indivisible Groups in order to keep the movement local.
“We have had some members of San Francisco ask if they could come up and help out,” Roberts said, noting that the problem there was the opposite of rural Colusa County: too many volunteers who want to get involved. “I said no, this is our thing.” ■