Oroville mocked for declaring itself 'constitutional republic' to escape vaccine mandate

City council votes to fight against California's vaccine mandate, but experts say it has little actual value

                            Oroville mocked for declaring itself 'constitutional republic' to escape vaccine mandate
A sign for the Oroville City Hall in the city of Oroville, California. (City of Oroville/Facebook)

Countermeasures to Covid-19 are still being opposed nationwide, despite an uptick in the death and hospitalization rates in recent months. While Florida and Texas may often dominate the news for their anti-vaccine stance, one small California city made the headlines on November 26 for taking things much further. The city of Oroville, with around 15,000 residents voted to call itself a "constitutional republic" recently, in a bid to escape California's stringent mask and vaccine mandates.

Anti-vaxxers have only gotten more brazen in recent months, as President Biden is fighting to issue widespread vaccine mandates. In March, an Arizona man was arrested for holding National Guard troops at gunpoint, while they were attempting to deliver vaccines. In recent weeks, wild theories such as the presence of 'luciferase' in vaccines have also begun to spread, further hampering efforts. 


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As a result, hospitalization and death numbers are continuing to creep back up, with concerns of new variants leading many other nations to reintroduce lockdowns. But Oroville decided against all that, with its declaration. Interestingly though, it doesn't appear to have much power or value, as experts have noted.

A sign welcoming people to the City of Oroville in Butte County, California. (City of Oroville/Facebook)


'It's time to draw a line in the sand'

California has one of the most stringent vaccine and mask requirements in the US, something Oroville's council has had enough of. In late November, they adopted a resolution declaring the town a constitutional republic after a 6-1 vote. "I think it's a time for us to draw a line in the sand, enough is enough," said  Vice Mayor Scott Thomson. "We're not talking about one mandate that's been pushed on us recently, it's a barrage of mandates," he added.

It's not the first time the city has pushed back against California's requirements. Last year, it refused to issue a prohibition on indoor dining, and in the fall of 2021, Butte County, where the city is located refused to re-impose a mask mandate. "I assure you, folks, that great thought was put into every bit of this. Nobody willy-nilly threw something to grandstand," Mayor Chuck Reynolds said. But, just how much thought is the question.

Lisa Pruitt, a rural law expert at the University of California, Davis, told The Guardian, "A municipality cannot unilaterally declare itself not subject to the laws of the state of California. Whatever they mean by constitutional republic you can’t say hocus pocus and make it happen." It's something even Thomson has acknowledged. "We can’t eliminate these mandates locally but we are in charge of how our local officers enforce them," he told The East Bay Times. Councilmember Art Hartley also backed that understanding, saying, "basically all we're doing is making a political statement...it has absolutely no teeth."

Anti-vaccine activists hold up signs during a protest in front of the Massachusetts State House on August 30, 2020, in Boston, Massachusetts. (Scott Eisen/Getty Images)


'Let them apply for a f-----g visa'

Despite the declaration having little teeth, the Oroville council has drummed it up as a big win. On the internet though, it's made the city a laughing stock. "Next time that big dam fails and needs repairs, or the next time a wildfire is threatening the town, let's see who the Constitutional Republic of Oroville calls for help," one user commented. Another tweeted, "Scott Thompson did this for show. Oroville, like every other community/state is already a constitutional republic. He did this “thing” to appease his supporters in Oroville. It means absolutely nothing, except to Fox." Another slammed, "Oroville wants to be an independent republic. Fine. Fence up. Any resident wants to leave town borders, let them apply for a f-----g visa and then wait in line. The sane ones can request asylum."






"Oroville, California declares itself a "constitutional republic" and the Vice Mayor says they are in a war. Do we send in ground troops or call in air strikes?" one user joked. Another noted, "Oroville definitely wasn’t a “constitutional republic” when their dam broke and they needed the state and federal government to fix it." Another tweeted, "Oroville, CA declared itself a "constitutional republic" to get around vaccine and mask laws. This is stupidity on steroids. BTW - Oroville used federal funds to fight wildfires and repair their failing dam this year."





The exact legal and political implications of the resolution are unclear, but it's highly unlikely it means Oroville is seceding from California or the USA. City Attorney Scott Huber noted "there is no risk of loss of funding with it," because it is not a policy or something that changes the city's ordinance. The resolution has been compared to cities calling themselves "sanctuary cities", which as courts ruled does not violate any laws. All the resolution does is allow the city to bypass California's vaccine mandates, but puts itself in charge of police response. 

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