Attendees of the “We the People” rally at Old Mill Park on Saturday were greeted at the gate with a quotation from Thomas Jefferson, reminding them that, “If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so.”
That obligation was the pointed focus of a series of speakers, who spent the next five hours decrying perceived attacks on the Second Amendment, COVID-19 government mandates and the erosion of religious freedom among other grievances.
Starting at 11 a.m., the crowd of approximately 250 gathered around a stage draped with an oversized American flag as a backdrop. Rallygoers, few of them masked, sat on hay bales or brought their own chairs and blankets.
A few hundred yards away across the field, children clambered up an inflatable slide and chucked basketballs at hoops in a supervised play area. A man in full George Washington garb milled about, and a sheriff who sued the Clinton Administration held a book signing.
It had the feel of a family festival, albeit one geared toward a very particular type of family.
One of the events’ organizers, a Virginia Beach resident named Melissa who declined to give her last name, said the rally came together in just the past six weeks.
“We wanted to teach the people,” she said.
The afternoon’s “lessons” included a spirited address from Dr. David E. Martin. Martin, who gained notoriety from his contributions to the faux-documentary film “Plandemic 2,” reassured rallygoers that “not a single person in this room [sic], not one of you is a pathogen carrier. You are not sick.”
Martin repeated false claims about the coronavirus and framed its origin as a global conspiracy involving Dr. Anthony Fauci dating back to October 2019.
Other speakers included Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League and KrisAnne Hall, a self-proclaimed constitutional attorney.
Van Cleave referred to the Second Amendment as “the canary in the coal mine.”
“When that canary dies, the rest of your liberties are going to die right along with it,” said Van Cleave, “because there will be nothing to stop the government that’s taken away your right to defend yourself.”
The rally cobbled together a diverse coalition, from Second Amendment and religious rights supporters to anti-vaxxers. The Highwire, a leading anti-vaccination podcast, livesteamed the rally on its website.
Some attendees, like Powhatan resident Joe Ordia, viewed the issues as intersecting.
“I’m concerned that our constitutional freedoms are under attack,” said Ordia, who was wearing an orange “GUNS SAVE LIVES” sticker on his shirt.
While rallygoers received their fill of pro-constitution rhetoric, some may have gone home hungry.
Referencing a Free Lance–Star article previewing the event, MC Jarome Bell noted that, “because of what the fake news wrote about us,” the food trucks scheduled to provide lunch elected not to participate.
Joey LoMonaco: 540/368-5045
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