Tempers flared in downtown Pottsville Monday afternoon at a protest against State Sen. Dave Argall’s support of a forensic audit of the 2020 election in Pennsylvania.
Schuylkill Indivisible, a local liberal activist group, organized the protest outside Argall’s office on N. Centre St. They were met by a group of counter-protesters, mostly from a group known as Berks County Patriots, based in Hamburg. Several local Republicans also joined in the protest.
The gathering was definitely more spirited than any of the public demonstrations we’ve seen over the past year in Schuylkill County. We spotted several face-to-face verbal confrontations within the hour-long sidewalk debate.
Both groups, by the way, stood literally side-by-side on the east side of the street, packing in front of Argall’s office and the flower shop next door. Some protesters also gathered at different street corners at the intersection of Centre and Market streets.
Despite the tension in the air Monday, nothing more than loud words and personal insults were exchanged between the sides. But both sides clearly came ready to rumble … metaphorically, of course.
Each side was properly bull-horned.
There was this guy, who clearly doesn’t trust the media ( … even when it’s kinda on his side) …
And Lisa Von Ahn, who was mic’d up for the left and Schuylkill Indivisible …
And they each brought signs, too.
When people drove by the protest, it was really hard to tell for whom their honks were supporting.
Some shouted as they drove by but none of the shouters really prepared remarks succinct enough to be heard while doing 20 past the protest spot.
And they brought their talking points, too.
We asked Claire Kempes, of Schuylkill Indivisible, what she thought of the boisterous counter-protest. Typically at one of the group’s protests, it’s just them demonstrating, no counter protesters are there, and you know who the honkers support.
“They have every right to protest,” Kempes said. “I just wish they would stop saying baseless information.”
Schuylkill Indivisible stance on the forensic audit of the 2020 election in Pennsylvania is that it’s a waste of money and there’ve already been two audits, they say. Kempes didn’t believe the people countering her group’s protest on Monday had all their facts straight.
“Many didn’t know who Bill Barr was,” she said. “There were several challenges. They were all dismissed because of lack of evidence.”
On the other side, Helen Macminn with Berks County Patriots, said there should be no harm in conducting another audit of the election. And her group and the Schuylkill Republicans on hand Monday support Argall’s stance on the issue and hopes he continues pressing forward.
“Why are they opposing,” she wondered. “If Biden won legitimately, then we’ll have to accept that.”
Macminn said the counter-protest rally was organized to “protest the vote” and that it’s not just about trying to overturn an election at this point. They, like many conservatives and Republicans, fear the irregularities of the 2020 election could happen again in another election.
“We have to straighten out the voter rolls and make sure the next election is not fraught with fraud,” she said.
Photos: Coal Region Canary