Bonner County commissioners oppose refugee resettlement

By Cameron Rasmusson
Reader Staff

It didn’t take long for disorder to break out at Tuesday’s Bonner County Board of Commissioners public hearing.

Around 100 people crammed into a small room at Monday's meeting with Boundary County Commissioners to discuss resolutions to oppose refugee resettlement. Photo by Ben Olson.

Around 100 people crammed into a small room at Monday’s meeting with Boundary County Commissioners to discuss resolutions to oppose refugee resettlement. Photo by Ben Olson.

Perhaps it was inevitable that the meeting, in which commissioners unanimously voted to oppose Syrian refugee resettlement, would be tense and emotionally fraught. But when the first speaker, Mary Haley, suggested the resolution would invite comparisons to North Idaho’s history of white supremacy movements and “do nothing but paint a Nazi symbol on our foreheads,” the boos and catcalls were immediate.

“You called us Nazis!” one man shouted.

“[Muslims] hate Christians!” another yelled. “We’re all Christians!”

It was the most chaotic moment in a meeting filled with dozens of public comments. More than 100 turned out to hear the commissioners, who ultimately decided to support Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter in opposing refugee resettlement. They cited their backgrounds in the military and reasoned that, while many refugees are likely good people, Bonner County’s safety is at risk. They also noted radical Islam represents a particularly pernicious threat to the country.

“I do have a heart,” Commissioner Glen Bailey said. “ I am a Christian. I believe in loving my brother. However, as an elected official, I do have a responsibility.”

Their decision followed about an hour of public comment. The two opposing statements, one by Haley and the other by Steve Lockwood, centered on North Idaho’s national reputation as a haven for racists. Even if the reputation is unfair, any action reinforcing it could hurt tourism from Spokane and Canada, where many refugees are being resettled. And since the county lacks authority to halt refugee resettlement, they called the resolution a toothless political action.

The majority of attendees, however, called for officials to protect Bonner County from potential terrorist attacks. Some said the resolution didn’t go far enough.

“I would like to see something a little more powerful, a little more gutsy,” said Glenn Rohrer. “[You should] refuse to allow this program to continue.”

Bonner County Sheriff Daryl Wheeler received resounding applause when he reiterated his opposition to refugee resettlement in Idaho. He first weighed in on the issue two weeks ago with a letter to Otter urging cessation of the program.

“When I see a potential threat to this community, I am obligated to do everything in my power to expose that threat,” he wrote in the letter. “The resettlement of Syrian refugees is a plausible threat and must be prevented.”

Many expressed beliefs similar to state legislators like Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, who claims Muslims seek to infiltrate rural communities, reproducing until they can enact Sharia, or Islamic law.

“Islam is not a religion—it is a culture, a way of life,” said Danielle Ahrens. “Sharia law is their constitution.”

One woman said Dearborn, Mich., which houses a prominent Muslim community, has already established Sharia law and is sentencing residents to floggings, amputations and stonings (according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, this is a rumor based on a satire article). She also claimed the U.S. government is purchasing guillotines, presumably for imminent beheadings. Others held to the conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama is working with the Muslim Brotherhood to transform American society.

Several of the meeting attendees also turned out for a Boundary County Board of Commissioners meeting Monday morning. Once again, more than 100 people packed into a small room with the majority urging commissioners to oppose refugee resettlement. Commissioners delayed a decision until next week, with Commissioner Dan Dinning cautioning against any action targeting one particular religion.

“Once you start for a specific religious group, you open it up to curve potentially into any religious group,” he said. “I want to be careful that we’re not picking out a religion.”

9 Responses

  1. Betty Dexter kington says:

    I recall a town back in the sixties where it was safe to let your children outside to play. And at 10 o’clock the siren went off and we all knew to head for home , or the street lights came on . your child could walk down the streets and you didn’t have to worry about them but if you let Obama put the Syrian refugees here it is going to change things drastically.. no more will Sandpoint be the place to go .I still call Sandpoint home I still care what happens there and I object strongly
    there are people in this town homeless there are people in this town making minimum wage can the state of Idaho and especially in Sandpoint afford to put some more people on welfare and food stamps let’s take care of what we’ve got right here right now we don’t need the extra added burden of Obama’s fantasies .

    • forbes mag says:

      Unfortunately Sandpoint is in the grip of ultra liberals, many from elsewhere, like new mayor Rognstad, his cronies on the town council, the ultra liberal Daily Bee and the Sandpoint Reader. They are the ones who ultimately are going to ruin the town you described, because they are on a mission.

  2. Cheryle Pat Wilson says:

    But Islam is not a religious group Dan Dinning, it is a religious movement. They are the only ‘religious movement’ that are beheading/blowing up/stabbing infidels. Enough of the Political Correctness you are going to get us all killed, since most of us that live here claim to be Christians the area is a prime target. I do not want to go to WalMart, the mall or any other store in our now safe area & worry about being blown up. I went to the Valley Mall in Spokane a few weeks ago & left because I felt very uncomfortable. I did not feel safe. Never in my life in America have I felt that my life was in danger just by existing. Here in this area we still feel somewhat safe. I am sure that we are all on alert & that is bad enough. It would not be a good thing to bring these people here, especially when they can be easily taken care of by other Middle Eastern countries.

  3. Harvey Brannigan says:

    ya I feel afriad of going into walmart if I did go to walmart because some fuckin idoit red
    neck with a gun might shoot me … christ what a county … when will people stand up to these assholes …

    • midnighter7 says:

      Can you be more specific as to who are actually afraid of?

    • Raymond Fee says:

      I live in standpoint. Everyone open carry’s. I go to wal mart all the time, I open carry in wal mart, I usually count about 20 other people as well, no one gets shot there… Ever…. So you’re kinda stupid.

    • forbes mag says:

      You’re the asshole because you’re ignorant. The people you’re trying to slander clearly have more common sense than you do.

      1) They are not “refugees”. There is no war in Turkey where they’ve crossed the border into and there’s no reason why they can’t stay there. They are economic migrants, pure and simple.

      2) 80% of them are young men, and a bad sort.

      3) Idaho and its government do not owe those migrants anything. They are not American citizens, not even residents. There is no benefit or good reason on earth to import tens of thousands of trouble-making young males from half a world away.

      4) Germany has already suffered numerous rapes and other sexual harassment of its women by such “refugees”.

      5) Israel is lot closer to Syria than the United States on the other side of the world. Send all the refugees there. No? Why NOT?

  4. forbes mag says:

    “Even if the reputation is unfair, any action reinforcing it could hurt tourism from Spokane and Canada…”

    Ridiculous. This is a cliche lie the ultra liberals keep trying to fool North Idahoans with. There’s no proof that a pro-White reputation for North Idaho hurts the tourism in any way. First, the areas cited above, Canada (within easy travel distance) and Spokane, are overwhelmingly White. Even the U.S. as a whole is still majority White.

    Next, the pro-White reputation can be inferred to BOOST tourism. And that from the Sandpoint Reader’s own pages. Some weeks back, it published a letter from a Sandpoint taxi driver who decried how awful it was when visitors would get in his taxi and say they were relieved that they wouldn’t be seeing any black people. (Again, the Sandpoint Reader has a mission of ultra-liberal propaganda and published such a long letter to decry horrible “racism” just as the taxi driver writer was). But from their own article you can see living proof that Idaho’s pro-White reputation is attractive to many visitors who are suffering fatigue from the disorder, chaos, inefficiency, and crime found in areas of the country with large non-White populations.

  5. Bluesman50349 says:

    What would Jesus do??? What would be his counsel??? There is nothing wrong with being afraid unless you let your fear control you and make a coward out of you…

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