The group calling itself the Mendocino Patriots protested Mendocino County’s Covid-19 health orders, which include keeping a mask mandate in place for at least another month, by gathering outside the Public Health Officer’s home Sunday afternoon.
Before the protest began around 2 p.m. Feb.13, Chief Executive Officer Carmel Angelo said Dr. Andy Coren was aware that the group planned to demonstrate outside his home, and that county officials had notified both the Ukiah Police Department and the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office.
“Dr. Coren is a big believer in everyone’s rights to their beliefs and to protest, and he did not request a response,” Angelo said. “He plans to spend the afternoon as he normally would on a Sunday afternoon, which is at home.”
Anne Molgaard, who was recently appointed the county’s Director of Public Health, said that “actually, Dr. Coren has been spending his Sunday afternoons working in the office with me, but we agreed he needed a week off. I tried to convince him to go to the coast for the day.”
Angelo said the group has protested outside Coren’s home in the past, but the latest event seemed different.
“I think the group has gotten larger and more organized,” she said. “Previously, about five or six people showed up and stood in the street for a couple of hours, then just left.”
Though there hadn’t been any major disruptions in the past outside Coren’s home, Angelo said she found it “egregious” that the group would choose to protest the county-imposed mandate outside an individual’s home.
“If you want to protest, protest outside the Public Health building, or outside the county administration building,” she said. “Dr. Coren is a fine individual, and he should not have this happening at his house.”
Late last year, the group began staging protests of the county’s mask mandate at local businesses such as Ukiah Natural Foods, Michaels and Black Oak, prompting several calls to the Ukiah Police Department due to reported disruption of commerce and other actions.
The protest began Sunday with at least a dozen people standing relatively quietly on the street directly in front of Dr. Coren’s house, many holding signs decrying mask and vaccine mandates. One sign read: “Love Thy Neighbor. Don’t fall for the ‘Divide’.”
At least one of Dr.Coren’s neighbors tried to persuade the group to protest elsewhere, but they remained.
On the Mendocino Patriots’ website, the protest is described as a “Rally at our PHO’s (Public Health Officer’s) house, and Dr. Coren is described as the person responsible “for our county orders/mandates. The Board of Supervisors should be voting on them, but they have decided to skip that step, and given Coren all the power. Our silence is prolonging the nightmare. We need everyone to stand TOGETHER and say enough!”
Dr. Coren reported Sunday that he had been outside gardening during most of the protest, which he described as beginning with about 15 people, and that by 4 p.m. the numbers had dwindled to about five.
“They’re mostly peaceful and they don’t bother me,” said Coren, explaining that while he both supports the group’s right to protest and understands how uncomfortable it can be to wear a mask, “I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t try and protect people with these health orders.”
(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)