Protesters returned to the grounds of Skyview High School in Vancouver on Friday, fueled both by recent anti-mask demonstrations and a judge’s attempts to quash them.
At the school, protesters stood with far-right figures such as Joey Gibson, founder of Patriot Prayer, a group that has attracted racist and violent followers, and Tusitala “Tiny” Toese. The crowd grew to around 40 people between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.
Demonstrators blared music and largely talked among themselves or on streaming video. Some arguments broke out as drivers told protesters to find other ways to fight masking requirements. One demonstrator flashed what appeared to be a white power hand gesture at a row of cars.
Some in the crowd held signs opposing mask mandates in Washington schools. Others, including Gibson, said this particular protest stemmed from the recent court order.
On Tuesday, Clark County Superior Court Judge Suzan Clark ordered an injunction to prevent rallies and protests “that disrupt education services.” The order was a response to recent, vitriolic anti-mask protests near Skyview, including a Sept. 3 protest that included members of the Proud Boys and culminated with administrators placing three campuses into lockdown.
According to the order, such protests can no longer occur within a mile of any property owned by Vancouver Public Schools. The district maintains it owns roughly 40 properties in the county.
“Suzan Clark is trying to suppress everybody’s first amendment rights. So I don’t think that’s right,” said demonstrator James Kirkendall, a 65-year-old retired firefighter living in Clark County. “I would like the judge to realize she made a mistake. And for everybody to realize that the judge has no power to infringe upon the constitution or the First Amendment.”
Clark has not responded to OPB’s calls to her office.
According to local attorneys, the order does appear to be Constitutional because it does not explicitly criminalize protesting. The order is a civil injunction against protests “that disrupt education services.”
If a person knowingly violates a civil injunction, they are not committing a crime, but they may face consequences at a judge’s discretion, such as fines or even jail time.
Rachael Rogers, senior deputy prosecutor at the Clark County Prosecutor’s Office, said the injunction applies to anyone who is properly aware of it. The actual court order only names one person — a Skyview parent who reportedly organized prior rallies — and “All John Doe individuals.”
“They’re not violating any crime,” Rogers said. “What they’re violating is a civil injunction. And there are different remedies for a violation of that civil injunction.”
Still, protesters disagreed with the order. Barry Mannie, a 57-year-old mechanical engineer from Vancouver, called it a “mock order.” He said the protest Friday was intentionally disruptive as an expression of personal freedom.
“If the people have issues with the government, with the authorities, it needs to be disruptive,” Mannie said.
Mannie said the protest was not dangerous.
“How many lives were at risk today? Ask one of the cops how many lives were at risk with a group of I-don’t-know-how-many people expressing themselves,” he said. “And yeah, people flipped us off. And yeah maybe you might say something back, but we’re all human.”
Spokespeople for the Clark County Sheriff’s Office could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.
Vancouver Public Schools placed a heightened number of district resource officers at Skyview in anticipation of protests. Spokesperson Pat Nuzzo said staff at Skyview did place calls to the sheriff’s office’s non-emergency line.
In a letter to families, the district said one protester “briefly came onto Skyview’s property and was asked to leave.”
“We coordinated with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office in advance of the protest, and law enforcement officers were across the street during the protest,” the letter read. “We will continue to be vigilant and proactive to maintain the safety of our students and staff.”