How A San Diego Nonprofit Rallied Hundreds to Fight County’s Misinformation Declaration – NBC 7 San Diego

It was one in all August’s biggest local stories: A fiery and traditionally lengthy Board of Supervisors assembly capped with a midnight vote making San Diego County the primary within the nation to declare COVID-19 misinformation a public well being disaster.

Hundreds of San Diegans spoke earlier than the board on the Aug. 17 assembly, a lot of them impassioned and indignant, lodging insults and, at instances, threats at authorities officers.

One nonprofit proudly claims credit score for rallying more than 260 of those speakers – Reopen San Diego.

After a 15-hour-long assembly with a lot opposition and heated remarks from members of the general public, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted 3 to 2 to declare COVID-19 misinformation “a public well being disaster.”

In an effort to higher perceive the group, the way it was fashioned and what it goals to accomplish, NBC 7 Investigates sat down with one in all Reopen San Diego’s co-leaders, Amy Reichert.

“Everything occurred actually quick,” mentioned Reichert sitting exterior her home in La Mesa Thursday morning. “It was Friday that County Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher determined to add agenda merchandise 19 declaring that misinformation was a public well being disaster. So we actually sprang into motion from Friday to Tuesday.”

Through social media and electronic mail newsletters, Reichert says Reopen San Diego unfold the phrase encouraging folks to present up on the assembly and converse out.

“And it was simply an amazing response,” Reichert mentioned.

Reichert mentioned they acquired greater than 260 folks to join what wound up being greater than eight hours of public remark. The overwhelming majority vehemently opposed the misinformation agenda merchandise, although some used misinformation of their arguments.

NBC 7’s Catherine Garcia has the small print.

We requested Reichert concerning the audio system who made false statements and threats.

“We requested folks in a pair emails main up to Tuesday, ‘Please be respectful. Please don’t do something that may discredit us,’” Reichert mentioned.

While she says the group doesn’t condone violence, Reichert mentioned member opinions do range broadly.

“I’m not the thought police of them,” she mentioned. “They should not accountable for what I say. And I’m definitely not accountable for each single thought or what they are saying both.”

That mentioned, she says she is cautious of misinformation, and often fact-checks members. She shared an electronic mail thread with NBC 7 Investigates between her and a member, by which she tells him an article is outdated and never true.

“Right now the primary concern with folks in Reopen San Diego is mandates coming down, saying, ‘You know what, you’re going to lose your job until you submit to this medical mandate and get a vaccine,’’ Reichert mentioned.

Reichert mentioned she is selecting to wait on getting a COVID vaccine – citing apprehensions over the actual fact that it’s the first vaccine made with mRNA expertise. However, she mentioned she has each different beneficial vaccine, as do her two youngsters, and will get the flu vaccine yearly.

Reopen San Diego initially began as a social group for moms and children throughout the shutdown.

“We created this protected neighborhood the place we may very well be related and our youngsters might play,” Reichert mentioned.  “At first all we actually did was get to know each other. It was not about activism in any respect.”

That modified throughout the lockdown final November. The group has since organized enterprise proprietor conferences, rallies, marches and public assembly engagement. Reichert estimates a mixed social media and electronic mail following within the tens of 1000’s.

“It was wonderful the sort of response that we had,” mentioned Reichert. “We discovered folks feeling the identical method we had been – questioning, simply trustworthy questioning, about what happening.”

Reichert mentioned none of Reopen San Diego’s leaders revenue from any of the donations. The group has $15,000 {dollars} in its checking account – which she mentioned they spend on permits, tents, t-shirts, web site and electronic mail server charges. She additionally says Reopen San Diego is just not supported by any political celebration – and has by no means obtained any donation from a political celebration.

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