COLUMBIANA, Ohio (WKBN) – Droves of people showed up along Route 7 in Columbiana Friday to use their voices and show their discontent with officials at the local, state and national level.
They signed petitions opposing mask and social distancing mandates, executive orders and some orders at the county level. The goal is to bring attention to legislatures about what people want to see happening in their communities and country.
“Two of [the petitions] are for the county,” organizer Sherry Kissinger said. “They just bought $1 million worth of voting machines, and we want to know, what’s inside the voting machines? They just discovered in Michigan modem chips in about nine different counties. We want to know if our voting machines are going to be connected to the internet; are they going to have modem chips in them?”
First News reached out to the county Board of Elections, and those who could speak on the matter are out of the office until Monday.
Kissinger lives in Columbiana County, and with the help of her family, organized the event because they and all those who showed up feel their Constitutional rights are being walked on and they aren’t being heard.
“We believe in liberty,” Kissinger said. “It’s not that we don’t believe in the virus. We believe in our liberty. I’m a smart person; I know what to do for my family. I don’t need my government telling me what I need to do to protect my health. I know better.”
A representative from the Convention of the States was there. It is a national grassroots movement that encourages state legislatures to use their powers to propose amendments restoring limits on the power of the three branches of the federal government.
Another person had a table set up educating people on their rights and offering free copies of the Constitution.
“I’m just really impressed. They have done a terrific job, and they’re doing great things, and I’m happy to be here to support that,” said Tom Hach, executive director of Free Ohio Now.
Free Ohio Now was founded last March to oppose the “new normal.” The group has held rallies around the area in opposition of masks, lockdowns and other social-distancing orders.
“It’s important that we’re paying attention to things that are going on in our country because never before has our country faced these trying times,” said Thomas Wrhen, a person who showed up to sign the petitions. “The corruption is just out of control, and they’re not listening to the people. The whole process has been hijacked, and we need to take back our country.”
“This is not the country our forefathers wanted,” said Kevin Winn, another signer. “They want everyone to have freedoms, everyone included, and that’s what we’re trying to fight for. It’s not just our rights and freedoms, it’s everyone across the board.”
While not planned, Joe Blystone, who is running for Ohio governor, and his wife ended up at the event while driving by on their way to his hometown of East Liverpool.
“This is wonderful,” Blystone said. “This is true patriotism right here in the heartland so we stopped. We want to be part of this.”
Blystone, Winn, Wrhen and Hach acknowledged that there is a divide in this country. Blystone said bringing God and prayer back into the country would help unite it. Hach said there has to be a free exchange of ideas and get rid of censoring on social media.
“It is important that everyone has to respect that people don’t agree with them, that they need to just accept that and try to do as best they can to coexist together,” Hach said.
Winn said education about everyone’s rights and understanding history and how Americans have overcome diversities would be a good starting point.
“Everyone has the same rights, so who’s to say who should take whose rights away?” Winn said.
Wrhen said the truth would bring people back together.
“That’s the beautiful thing about the experiment of America. Everybody had their own opinion,” Wrhen said. “Whether you agree or disagree, at the end of the day, we’re still Americans. That flag is supposed to unite everybody, the anthem is supposed to unite everybody, and without that flag, there’s a lot of problems in the world that wouldn’t have been corrected.”
Charley Kidder, a chairman of the Columbiana County Democratic Party, said he’s glad everyone felt safe enough to gather.
“I think everyone has the right to be heard, but I think the president issued executive orders that were based upon the advice of the CDC and from the best advice from science and medical he is receiving. I think he’s doing what he can for us to be safe,” Kidder said.
Kidder also said he didn’t get the chance to talk to them so he wasn’t sure what concrete issues they had but knows the election board has both Republicans and Democrats on it and they haven’t had problems.
“In our area, the voting machines and the vote has gone very professionally,” Kidder said.