The sleepy little town of Wickenburg, Arizona woke up and went rogue, flipping a bird the size of a bald eagle at the State’s Governor, Double-Crossing Doug Ducey. His heavy handed one-size-fits-all approach isn’t going to work in rural Arizona. “We’re Americans, for one thing, and we don’t like the government telling us what to do. It’s always been that way.”
Wickenburg is fully open for business whether Ducey likes it or not
There’s a showdown brewing between the law and hard core conservative patriots in the “West’s most Western Town.” Governor Ducey extended his stay-at-home order to May 15, but only against dine-in restaurants. Other “retailers big and small” are allowed “to reopen with precautions.” It’s not fair, especially to the small restaurants that cater heavily to tourists in a small rural town. Wickenburg is open for business whether the governor likes it or not. There won’t be tourists for a while and the locals are begging for a meal they didn’t cook themselves.
“I’m a widow trying to do my best here,” Deb Thompson said as she served about eight customers. “I believe our governor needs to get out and stay in the rural areas like we are. He needs to walk these streets and see the devastation it’s caused on these businesses.”
Police officers strode into Thompson’s Horseshoe Cafe Friday morning, “armed with copies of Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s executive order,” AZCentral writes, to clear out the first of two downtown restaurants that illegally opened for breakfast in defiance of the Governor’s will. The deputies told the managers of both the cafe and neighboring Bedoin’s Bakery that they would have to clear their dining rooms. The only ones who left were the police. The restaurants continued serving customers.
‘They will have to arrest me’
Deb Thompson, Horseshoe Cafe’s owner knows one of the the officers well, and regards him as a friend, but still won’t close. “I told them I refused to close. I’m not going to comply.” The Trump-shirt wearing entrepreneur was in tears from her encounter with the law. “They have just told me that I have to shut down. I am not. They will have to arrest me.” She refuses to “accept government assistance to support her business and employees.”
She doesn’t want a socialist handout, she’s an American. “I just want to work and earn my own money. I don’t believe in depending on other people to help me out. I’m old school.” She’s expecting to be hauled away in cuffs at any moment but will keep serving customers until she is. Her customers are solidly behind her. Deb was planning to open at 6 a.m. for breakfast Friday, but around 5:30 a.m. some people “jumped the gun and started taking seats.” Throwing social-distance guidelines to the wind, “Thompson exchanged hugs and kisses with regular customers who told her they were excited to be able to sit inside and enjoy a meal again.”
74-year-old Daniel Beaulieu, drove nearly 60 miles from Peoria specifically “to support Thompson’s decision to re-open her cafe.” He generally cruises through Wickenburg on his motorcycle “about once a week.” He was “very happy” to be there but isn’t about to twist anyone’s arm. “If you’re fearful, stay home, if you’re sick, stay home.” At least in Arizona, they still believe in the Constitution. “We’re Americans, for one thing, and we don’t like the government telling us what to do. It’s always been that way.”
Thompson assures everyone that “her employees constantly wash their hands and her dishes are washed in 180-degree temperature.” Not only that, “each of her employees has tested negative for the virus and that she doesn’t allow anyone to work if they have a fever or are not feeling well.”
Heavy handed tactics
Next door at Bedoian’s Bakery and Bistro, “reserved” signs spaced out the patrons but they were free to dine-in if they wished. Town council member Kristy Bedoian notes she’s being careful. She’s offended by the heavy handed tactics of the Governor’s office. She wishes “the governor had taken a more nuanced approach with his orders that considered the variation in circumstances in communities across Arizona.” Wickenburg has more cows than people.
Bedoian voiced a concern echoed by many of the town’s merchants. She notes that she and other local business owners “were willing to ‘bite the bullet’ and comply with dine-in closures when it was only expected to be a short-term situation.” Now that it’s dragging on for more than a month it’s getting harder to justify. “Nobody likes a bad virus, nobody likes a bad flu, nobody likes death period,” Bedoian acknowledges, “but sometimes that’s life.” To her, “what we do for the future and for our children and our grandchildren, that’s more important. Posterity is important.”
It’s not about putting money ahead of safety. Anyone who is “fearful” should not go out. The lockdown destroyed 75 percent of her business which caters heavily to tourists. She lost $300,000 just during the first week of the quarantine. As a member of the town council, she’s confident that “standing up for her and her constituent’s constitutional rights” is something she just has to do, and has “been in touch with a lawyer.”
Just down the road, at the Trader J’s Southwestern gift store, they relate that they got a visit from the police as well. They also confirmed that the officers “had not escorted customers out of the buildings.” Wickenburg Police did not respond to a comment request.
The incident with the restaurants is separate from another effort to re-open Wickenburg businesses. Nohl Rosen and his group, Patriots of Wickenburg, coordinated the reopening of a “string of additional businesses.” Along with Rosen’s computer repair shop, Lydia’s La Canasta restaurant was open but the police didn’t pay them a visit. At least not by 1 p.m. on Friday.