After weeks of government-imposed lockdowns in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Americans across the country are growing increasingly restless, ready get back to work and business as usual.
That perfectly understandable desire of the people is, in some places, in direct conflict with local and state authorities who have insisted on continuing to keep things shut down for the foreseeable future.
He even went so far as to dare his state’s governor to send the state police to try to shut his town back down.
That bold mayor, a Democrat, is named Martin “Modey” Hicks, and he governs the small town of Grants, New Mexico. His decision to allow local businesses to reopen on Monday would seemingly undermine a recent statewide order by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham that extended the initial restrictions she’d imposed until at least May 15.
“The governor is killing us. She’s totally killing us,” Hicks said. “So we have no choice. So right now, we are reopening.”
“Let state police come down here,” he added.
The mayor said all local businesses in his town of around 9,000 residents could reopen on Monday, and instructed his local police force to be ready to prevent the state police from coming to town and issuing any citations for violations of the governor’s lockdown orders.
Lujan Grisham’s order, which limits gatherings to no more than five people and prevents “nonessential” businesses from being open, was extended on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the governor is reportedly assembling a bipartisan group of mayors to help formulate a plan on how best to begin reopening the state.
The AP reported that violations of the governor’s lockdown orders could result in a warning for a first-time offense, with repeat offenders earning a petty misdemeanor charge and fines of up to $100 and $5,000 for second and third offenses, respectively.
That didn’t seem to bother Hicks too much, though, as he not only ordered the town’s police to resist efforts by the state to issue citations for violations but also appears to have his local sheriff on board with the plan to reopen immediately.
“I’ve told businesses to call 911 if state police show up to their place. We are going to stop Lujan Grisham and her Gestapo,” the mayor said.
Cibola County Sheriff Tony Mace told the media that his deputies would not shut down any businesses in Grant that decided to open back up — but he also said his deputies wouldn’t get in the way of any state police troopers attempting to enforce the shutdown.
“I understand where the mayor is coming from. I get it,” Mace said, stressing that he had no intention of placing his deputies in harm’s way by interfering with the activities of the state police.
Ironically, given the proclivity of Democrats to throw around allusions to Nazis when talking about Republicans or President Donald Trump, Lujan Grisham’s office took great offense to the mayor’s reference to Nazis’ secret police force and denounced the mayor for his remarks.
“To compare an elected official making difficult decisions to protect the public health of all New Mexicans to Hitler is disgusting,” Grisham spokeswoman Nora Sackett said. “We condemn it in the strongest possible manner.”
“The world recently observed Holocaust Remembrance Day, and to make such a horrifying and misguided comparison while New Mexicans are taking action to protect themselves and their communities from a terrible virus is beyond the pale,” she added.
Notably, however, Sackett declined to comment as to what the governor or state police might do regarding the mayor’s vow to obstruct any sort of enforcement action against businesses that decided to reopen in his town.
It will be interesting to see if the governor decides to respond with force via the state police to the mayor’s defiance or looks the other way as his small town gets back to work.
Regardless of what she chooses to do, this mayor is likely only the first to stand up and directly contradict the governor’s orders, and we could see a repeat of this sort of defiant action spread across the nation.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.