Defeat and denial

Local Trump supporters rally behind dubious allegations of election fraud

The “Stop the Steal” ride made its way through Chico on Saturday morning (Nov. 7). (Photo by Ken Smith)

Sounds of celebration and fumes from idling diesel engines filled the air behind Raley’s grocery store on Notre Dame Boulevard at 10 a.m. Saturday (Nov. 7), as diehard Donald Trump supporters gathered to protest alleged corruption they believe is responsible for their candidate’s projected loss of the 2020 presidential election.

The event was one of several so-called “Stop the Steal” rallies held around the country in recent days, a response to unverified claims of large-scale voter fraud that Trump has asserted since well before Election Day and continues to maintain as of press time. Fears that the sitting president will not accept defeat and allow a peaceful transfer of power led to election angst locally and nationally (see “The votes are (mostly) in,” page 8).

The Associated Press announcement earlier that morning proclaiming Joe Biden had secured enough votes in battleground states to clinch the presidency barely dampened the festive atmosphere in the grocery store’s rear parking lot—where dozens of vehicles lined up to caravan around the city of Chico—nor did occasional taunts from passersby celebrating Biden’s win.

“Nice second-place parade, losers!” said one man waving a Biden sign as he drove past the assemblage. A passing car full of women danced in their seats as they loudly sang, “Na-na-na-na, hey hey hey, goodbye.”

Attendees to the rally decorated their vehicles with American, Trump campaign and pro-law-enforcement “Back the Blue” flags, as well as hand-painted signs and slogans such as “Biden is crooked,” “Fear = Control” and “Jesus is Our Savior, Trump is Our President.” A woman stood to the side of the lot waving a sign reading “Stop Voter Fraud, Recount CA, Wake Up America” and decorated with symbols of the QAnon conspiracy cult, whose adherents believe Trump stands against a cabal of Satan-worshipping, child-cannibalizing politicians and celebrities.

Near the front of the caravan, several teenagers gathered around a white pickup truck. When asked why they were attending the rally that day, a young man wearing a shirt emblazoned with a likeness of the sitting president throwing up middle fingers and the slogan “Trump 2020, Fuck Your Feelings” replied, “‘Cuz fuckin’ America, that’s why!”

A small group of women directed vehicles to line up and kept the scene from growing too chaotic. One of them, wearing a “Messy Buns & Guns” shirt and “God, Guns & Trump” hat, handed out miniature versions of the Back the Blue flags. Directing the whole gathering was Robin McCrea, a local leader in the effort to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Robin McCrea, an organizer for Saturday’s “Stop the Steal” ride as well as the local effort to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom. (Photo by Ken Smith)

“There’s a lot of people that aren’t feeling happy about what’s going on in our state and our country right now, so we’re continuing to show our support and keep the faith that justice will prevail and corruption will be shot down,” she said. “We are continuing to rally and support our president and hope America can continue to be a free nation and not succumb to socialist communism.”

McCrea said there’s “so much proof it’s ridiculous” that illegal ballots led to Trump’s presumptive electoral defeat, saying she’s watched online videos of poll workers allegedly marking ballots and read reports of other malfeasance. She stated her beliefs that corrupt Democrats are bent on taking away Constitutional rights, and turning the United States into a communist nation.

However, she stopped short of calling for violence and insurrection if the current election results are not overturned. “The people that are patriots will not destroy, loot or burn like the left. We will accept what we have to accept and no doubt put another candidate forward in four years … possibly President Trump.”

Unproven claims of voter fraud and the belief that Trump should remain president have a lot of traction in Northern California, and not just among average citizens and fringe conspiracy followers. Congressman Doug LaMalfa, who retained the seat of U.S. Representative for California’s 1st Congressional District he’s occupied since 2013, has made multiple statements on social media casting doubt on national election results.

On Nov. 5, LaMalfa announced on his campaign’s Facebook page that North State lawyers affiliated with his office were involved in legal challenges against a Biden victory in other states. “We are fighting,” he wrote.

The next morning (Nov. 6), he posted a more thorough rebuke of alleged electoral chicanery on his official Rep. Doug LaMalfa Facebook: “The circumstances surrounding this Presidential election point to a fraudulent outcome. The reports we’ve seen of non-residents, deceased voters, potential mail fraud, and partisan poll watching are deeply concerning and must be challenged. Every legal vote must be counted to preserve the integrity of our Republic and faith in our electoral system.”

The congressman provided zero examples of these “reports” and, so far, no GOP lawsuits citing voting fraud—in states like Pennsylvania, Georgia, Wisconsin and Arizona—have gained traction with judges, with at least five cases thrown out due to lack of credible evidence.

LaMalfa also announced that he’s joined several of his Republican colleagues in the House to send a letter to Attorney General William Barr urging the Department of Justice to investigate alleged voting irregularities (which Barr has since done). On Nov. 7, he posted to his personal Facebook page a slogan co-opted from those who’ve opposed Trump’s presidency the last four years: “#resist.”

A request for comment from LaMalfa’s office was not returned as of press time.

The “Stop the Steal” ride made its way through Chico on Saturday morning (Nov. 7).

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