City Declares Independence From California in Vaccine Protest

A city in northern California has made a symbolic gesture of defiance against the state's COVID mandates by declaring itself a "constitutional republic."

The city council in Oroville voted 6-1 in a declaration aimed at showing its opposition to measures aimed at mitigating the pandemic, such as requirements that schoolchildren be vaccinated.

Leaders in the city of about 20,000 people about 70 miles south of state capital Sacramento, said the designation was a way to stand up against state rules it did not agree with, although the move is unlikely to have any legal standing.

The council's declaration on November 2 said that executive orders issued either by California or the federal government, "that are overreaching or clearly violate our constitutionally protected rights, will not be enforced by the City of Oroville against its citizens."

In October, Governor Gavin Newsom announced the Golden State would be the first state to announce plans to require student vaccinations, after implementing first-in-the-nation school masking and staff vaccination measures.

Vaccine California
The Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine is administered in Rosemead, California on November 29, 2021. COVID measures have been opposed in the Gold State by Oroville which in protest has declared itself a "constitutional republic." FREDERIC J. BROWN/Getty

Newsom faced opposition to the measures in Butte county, where Oroville is located, and where more than half of voters (51 percent) voted for him to be recalled in the election which put his COVID policies under scrutiny.

The vaccine mandates, especially the one for schoolchildren, was opposed by a number of Butte County school districts, the Los Angeles Times reported.

As of Tuesday, only 51.9 percent of Butte County residents had been vaccinated, compared with a statewide average of 71.9 percent.

Oroville Vice Mayor Scott Thomson said what spurred the vote was the increased reach of the mandates.

He and other councillors took issue with rules that shifted from enforced mask use and new rules for businesses to "now shoving something inside your body that nobody knows the long-term effects of."

"Now you're, in my opinion, crossing the line," Thomson told the LA Times.

Although the vote was cheered by the council when it was passed, Lisa Pruitt, a law expert at the University of California, Davis told The Guardian "you can't just say hocus pocus" and unilaterally decide to evade state and federal laws.

Also, the council's resolution will not affect schools in the area, which are run by the school district.

"A municipality cannot unilaterally declare itself not subject to the laws of the state of California," Pruitt told the paper.

However, the council's move has met with criticism among some local residents.

Celia Hirschman whose father, former San Francisco poet laureate Jack Hirschman, died of COVID, told the LA Times the decision says, 'we're cowboys, and we're not going to live by your rules.'

"I feel it's a dangerous measure that they have no business adding to our charter," she told the paper.

Newsweek has contacted Governor Newsom's office for comment.