by Richard Uhlhorn
The last 17 months have been hard on everyone. Ever since the pandemic started last March and people became locked down in their homes the world has changed.
Anger, frustration, skepticism, divisiveness and long held anxiety have emerged to the surface.
Prior to COVID and its effects on our lives, the town of Chelan was pretty peaceful. Unfortunately, that feeling of peace changed when the Governor began mandating business shutdowns, masking, school closures and a host of other edicts that angered many valley residents.
With the advent of COVID the worst of all those feelings listed above began to show itself on social media platforms and residents in the Lake Chelan Valley let their individual feelings be known to the utter surprise of friends and acquaintances.
With people standing on both sides of the mandates, a feeling of division began to emerge as the new normal.
As the lockdown of 2020 wore on, a small group of friends, all long-time residents in the valley, became concerned about the unconstitutional infringement on freedoms and the increasing censorship of voices who spoke up about it. Each of them knew other people who felt marginalized or outright silenced within the community and even their own families, afraid to speak about their concerns. The six of them decided to form a group named “We The People United” (WTPU) for all Chelan Valley residents who stand for freedom, sovereignty and the right to make personal decisions based on the constitutional rights granted by the founding fathers. It was to be a group where anybody could belong regardless of political ideology, religious beliefs, race, nationality, etc.
The WTPU founding members stressed that the group is not in opposition of our government, but they are firmly in favor of freedom. Their purpose is expressed in their Mission Statement:
“It is the purpose of We the People United to support each other in claiming our God-given and constitutional rights.”
The groups long-term Vision states:
“The vision of We the People United is to build a community of strength, connection, resilience, resources, expertise and independence to help support each member and change the valley into a better place to live for all of us.
Brigitte Sztab, one of the founders of “We the People United” said, “A lot of people feel isolated in a social and political atmosphere that censors or shames anyone who does not believe 100% in the mainstream narrative or the common sense of the government’s measures.”
So the group was organized and Sztab added that they didn’t know who would be attracted. “As long as people believe in the inalienable freedoms our constitutional guarantees, they can join us. We just wanted to provide a framework for a gathering of people around shared perspectives. We are always stronger together!”
Most of the group’s conversations happen on the messaging platform ‘Telegram.’ The group holds in-person meetings on a semi regular basis.
The group started out by invitation only, with members asking their friends to join.
On only a week’s notice, the first meeting attracted 68 individuals who came together to join their voices and gain support for their efforts to peacefully participate in government, defend their livelihoods from government overreach and stand for individual freedoms.
Some of the overriding issues with many people are the mandates that have disrupted lives throughout the valley. Businesses closed, kids forced to learn on-line instead of in a classroom, required masking in school and elsewhere, restaurants shut down or only allowed to open at reduced capacity. Vaccinations are not a dividing factor, as the group believes in everyone’s freedom to make decisions concerning their personal health.
With WTPU providing the framework for the communication among its members, individual subgroups, like parents who want their children to be free of state mandated, school-enforced masking requirements, have formed to fight those mandates that they personally feel are unhealthy for their children.
The whole of WTPU may not be interested or engaged with a particular agenda or goal of any of its subgroups, but all members can reach out to other members to ask for support for their grass-roots efforts. What each subgroup and each member does, is up to them, as long as it is legal and in the spirit of freedom as granted by the Constitution. No permission is required from anybody in the group. This is not a top-down organization, but rather a community of independent people who have come together around shared ideals.
Within three weeks after its first meeting, WTPU grew to nearly 300 members; one meeting in June attracted over 100 concerned citizens who heard from and were able to ask questions of both Chelan County Commissioner Tiffany Gering – and Chelan County Sheriff Brian Burnett. “ We have long-ago abdicated our responsibility to self-govern and left the job to others. No wonder politics got taken over by career politicians and self-interested agendas. We have only ourselves to blame”, says Brigitte Sztab. “Now it is time to take an interest again, to communicate with and participate in local government.”
A couple of month’s into the group’s existence, We the People United, came under scrutiny and untrue rumors began to circulate. “Rumors are going around town because we are not in the public eye,” said one of the organizers. “This (group) kinda grew quietly. But we don’t have anything to hide.”
We the People United has no membership application or dues and no requirements for belonging except to stand behind the Constitution of the United States. “We are here to support merchants, schools, kids, our community and each other through this unprecedented time and maybe tougher times to come.”
If you are interested in learning more about how to get involved and hopefully dispel the issues dividing the community and unite around a positive shared purpose, email the group at WeTPU@protonmail.com