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Note from Tribune Publisher Jordan Hedberg on the unacceptable mob behavior during the Thursday, July 6 BOCC meeting:

During a Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting on Thursday, July 6 a crowd of 30 people gathered in the Custer County Courtroom to hear the proposal of hiring a new Veteran’s Service Officer and to hear a presentation and vote on a resolution to create the position of a county manager. 

The crowd gathered there had responded to a series of emails and Facebook posts containing a story written by Sangre de Cristo Sentinel owner George Gramlich that was purposely inflammatory and contained a series of lies designed to provoke outrage. The story was shared by email via the Sentinel bookkeeper Ann Barthrop and posted on social media by Lisa Frank. The link to that email can be found here

The crowd gathered spent the next five hours yelling, berating, and shouting lies at BOCC Chairman Kevin Day and Tom Flower. Commissioner Bill Canda repeatedly encourage the crowd, standing and making inflammatory statements that were cheered and answered with repeated “amens.”  The crowd devolved into a mob that had no interest in the process of a BOCC meeting or listening to Chairman Day’s responses to their questions and statements. Speakers insulted Day and Flower, demanded they resign, called them children, and attacked their families and private lives. By the end, the mob talked over Day and Flower and started to cuss at them, calling them asses, ass*oles, and more. The attached YouTube clip is just a brief moment of what took place over the five-hour period. After the meeting concluded, local Scott Bowers approached the table and attempted to physically confront Day and Flower, cussing and yelling at the two BOCC members. 

Day and Flower allowed everyone their time to speak and patiently explained every objection that members of the crowd brought to them. I commend them for showing respect to the people that clearly had no respect for them in return, their office, or due process of a public meeting.

I condemn commissioner Bill Canda for encouraging this crowd behavior and not once advocating for civil discourse. Commissioner Canda can be seen repeatedly in the video laughing when members of the crowd cussed and insulted Day and Flower. 

Most of the people gathered to confront Day and Flower based their knowledge of local politics exclusively on the Sangre de Cristo Sentinel which has repeatedly stated that they are a partisan paper and not journalists. Owner George Gramlich has stated repeatedly that his writing is satire and not to be taken seriously when he has been confronted about the lies he has written. 

What took place Thursday was not only disrespectful to the process of local government, but the anger was so extreme it made the situation physically dangerous. 

Representative democracy has no room for attempted mob rule. 

Jordan Hedberg

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