Opponents of COVID-19 restrictions angrily criticized San Diego County supervisors during Tuesday’s meeting, prompting board Chairman Nathan Fletcher to call for a brief recess.
The meeting was the first in more than a year with all five supervisors sitting in the board chambers. The supervisors were set to approve the fiscal year 2021-22 budget Tuesday afternoon.
Residents cited numerous reasons for their anger, including state Assembly bills they claim will force people to be vaccinated against their will, the concept of vaccine passports and mask mandates.
“We’re at a very serious breaking point,” one man told the board.
The county officially declared an emergency on Feb. 14, 2020, as the number of resident infected with the coronavirus grew, and enacted certain restrictions to limit the spread. As of June 27, San Diego County has seen 282,416 COVID-19 cases and 3,780 deaths.
During the non-agenda public comment period, Alysson Hartmann, a founder of ReOpen San Diego, mockingly congratulated Fletcher.
“You deserve a huge round of applause — you’ve almost single — handedly destroyed America’s finest city,” Hartmann said.
Hartmann added that pandemic restrictions led to more suicides and depression.
Local businesses closed forever, “because the pandemic assistance didn’t even begin to touch their financial needs, while people like yourselves, with Zoom privilege, voted to encourage people to snitch on each other and turn each other in,” Hartmann added. “Shame on you. This is all on your watch.”
After Hartmann finished, some people applauded.
Audra Morgan, who has spoken against COVID restrictions at previous meetings, said the board members needed to listen to her and others. “Our freedoms and liberties are being trampled upon,” she said.
“An affidavit is coming, and your seats are going to be replaced by somebody else,” said Morgan, who was more than once told that her speaking time was up, but continued. At that point, Fletcher asked sheriff’s deputies to remove Morgan from the podium.
As people in the gallery continued yelling, another resident came up to the podium to speak. Just after 10 a.m., Fletcher asked sheriff’s deputies to clear the chambers of all non-county personnel for 10 minutes.
“This is being disruptive, and we want to make sure that every speaker (can be) heard,” Fletcher said.
All supervisors and other county officials left the chambers during the recess. When the meeting returned to order, Fletcher said he and his colleagues appreciated that members of the public are free to say whatever is on their mind.
“But you do not have the ability to interrupt other people’s ability to speak,” he added. “That next speaker who is coming after you has just as much right to have their voice heard as you do.”
Fletcher also said that at any point in the future, “as we become disruptive, where we are impeding other individuals’ ability to have their voice heard, we will every single time clear the chamber and remove everyone other than county staff. That is not our preference.”
Later, Morgan and two others gave a group presentation during two separate agenda items regarding the county Fire District and emergency medical services.
Fletcher asked them several times whether their comments pertained to the topic at hand.
Letitia Pepper, a San Diego attorney who said she was representing a group called “Keepers of the Nuremberg Code,” said it is illegal to keep people out of a public meeting.
Several residents mentioned the Nuremberg Code, which is a set of research ethics for human experimentation, as part of their opposition to the COVID-19 vaccine.
She also said she worried the agenda items would “give too much power to a county health official to make decisions that are not that person’s right to make.
“We know darn well this is to force people to be vaccinated,” Pepper said. “People are not willing to give the right about what happens to their body.”
“You’ve got to speak to the agenda,” Fletcher told her.