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Knezovich blasts Shea over plans to protest COVID-19 restrictions

UPDATED: Fri., April 17, 2020

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich blasted state Rep. Matt Shea on Friday, April 17, 2020, for urging supporters to hold rallies in violation of the governor’s stay-home order and gathering restrictions. (Spokane Regional Health District news conference video)
Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich blasted state Rep. Matt Shea on Friday, April 17, 2020, for urging supporters to hold rallies in violation of the governor’s stay-home order and gathering restrictions. (Spokane Regional Health District news conference video)

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich blasted state Rep. Matt Shea on Friday for urging supporters to hold rallies in violation of the governor’s stay-home order and gathering restrictions.

Knezovich, a longtime critic of Shea, called out the Spokane Valley lawmaker by name during a morning news conference with public health officials. Knezovich and Dr. Bob Lutz, the county’s health officer, have been coordinating the local emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s amazing that after five weeks of sitting here in front of this group – watching all the work that’s being done, trying to keep you safe, trying to keep your economy safe – that these people now want to come out of the woodwork, and they want to have protest rallies,” Knezovich said, referring to Shea and his supporters.

The sheriff said Shea has not been engaged in discussions about the pandemic response with other local officials.

“He’s brought nothing to this table – no solution, no thought process, nothing. But he wants to now spin you up and make it sound like no one cares about you,” said Knezovich, who like Shea is a Republican.

“To that individual and the people like him: Shame on you,” he said.

Knezovich referred to a flyer promoting a “May Day Mutiny” that Shea recently circulated among followers online. The graphic stated: “We revoke your right to govern. Our governors have taken authority they do not have. We the people demand their resignation.”

A copy of that flyer was posted to Facebook on Wednesday morning by Greg Overstreet, a lawyer who writes novels about doomsday prepping and government collapse under the alias “Glen Tate.”

Overstreet – who served as Washington’s open-government ombudsman under Attorney General Rob McKenna from 2005 to 2007 – instructed followers to “be at your local courthouse on May Day” and later deleted his Facebook post.

Shea, however, reiterated those plans in a series of posts Thursday and Friday, telling people to gather at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena for a march to City Hall on May 1. He also promoted another demonstration at the Capitol in Olympia on Sunday.

“RE-OPEN THE ECONOMY GOV. INSLEE. May 1st if you won’t we will rally in our counties to get them to re-open,” Shea wrote. “We have a right to go back to work, and go to church, and open our businesses, and buy guns at the store.”

He shared an edited version of the flyer that states, “Freedom is the cure.”

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