Boots on Yakima?
Boots on Yakima? MivPiv/

On May 31, Gov. Jay Inslee activated the Washington National Guard "in response to the spread of destructive protests and looting in Washington state." A total of 600 unarmed troops were deployed to hotspots in Seattle and Bellevue. The troops provided a wall of bodies for police officers in riot gear. In short, those in power wasted no time displaying the authority of the state to protesters.

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Now, let's jump six weeks in time and 130 miles in space and land in the middle of Yakima County. This area, which is in Phase 1 of reopening its economy, has been hit hard by the deadly COVID-19. On June 27, the county added 88 cases to a total load of over 7,000 cases. (King County, which has 2 million more people than Yakima County, reported 51 new cases on June 27.)

On June 26, Gov. Jay Inslee's order for everyone in the state to wear face masks in public areas where social distancing cannot be maintained was activated. From that day on, individuals who ignored or resisted the directive "could be charged with a misdemeanor, while Yakima County businesses that violate Inslee’s proclamation would be subject to a gross misdemeanor."

But guess what? Yakima County Sheriff Bob Udell said he would not enforce the order, and left it up to the fine people of his county to decide if they wear a mask or not. But how in the world did this sheriff come to believe he had any choice in the matter?

In the middle of a pandemic, which always threatens to escape our control, the insolent half-wit of a sheriff wrote this in a press release: “I support the individual’s right to determine the level of safety each one of us chooses, free of the threat of government intervention... I believe people will do the right thing for their family, friends and community.” It is evident this man has no fear. He thinks his job and position is safe. He says things in public, using publicly owned materials, that are only suitable for diner or bar or barn talk. What should be done with him?

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Considering the real danger this sheriff poses to human life, and considering how quickly Inslee was able to respond to protests in Seattle and and Bellevue, one would think the dire situation in Yakima demands the activation of the Washington National Guard (600 troops will do) and their deployment to Yakima to put an end to this sheriff's nonsense. If the state wasted no time displaying its strength to BLM protesters, it should also waste no time putting disorderly white sheriffs in their place. It is, after all, Inslee's job to protect the lives of Washingtonians. But how can he do his job effectively if this and that white sheriff thinks he can just make up rules and ignore executive commands?

It turns out, Inslee can't do a dame thing about this and other disobedient sheriffs in Washington. He has no direct power to enforce the face mask command. The Republican sheriff in Yakima can ignore Inslee because the governor can only act upon an official request that he does something drastic to impose order and save lives in Yakima. It's funny how it's so easy to call the National Guard on Black Lives Matter protesters, but simply impossible to do anything when it comes to white anti-face mask, anti-social distancing officials.

This post was updated at 4:37.

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