They Intimidate, We Educate
by Gabriella Romero (Student Volunteer)
Within San Benito County, 34,562 eligible voters may have their votes tallied on November 3rd, 2020. Campaigns have only a few weeks to convince voters.
The deadline has raised efforts for the No on N campaign, but has provoked verbal abuse from Yes on N advocates.
Several No on N volunteers have been harassed by Yes on N advocates in the past few weeks.
I interviewed some of our volunteers about their experiences. The interviewed volunteers identified as female, and one of them is under the age of eighteen. Volunteer X works with student interns in the No on Measure N campaign. Volunteer X canvasses in the city of Hollister by herself or with a couple of other older volunteers. Here are some questions I asked her: “ During your volunteer time, have there been any unpleasant incidents? If so, what happened?” Volunteer X replies, “One older man approached me while he was walking into Target and asked if I was for NO on N. After I replied ‘Yes’, he said ‘You're an idiot!’ and walked into the store.” Volunteer X continues, “ He came out of Target later and apologized for what he had said. I said it was OK. But then he told me that he was going to stand next to me and tell everyone I spoke to the real ‘truth’ and tell them to vote for YES on N. I told him that I was going somewhere else and walked back to my car. He followed me.” Volunteer X told the man she would call the police. He immediately left.
Unfortunately, the harassment reoccurred, but at Nob Hill in Hollister. Volunteer X continues, “I was canvassing in front of Nob Hill. I was answering some questions that one female
shopper had about Measure N when we heard someone shouting at us from about 20 feet away while he returned his empty shopping cart to one of the areas reserved for carts. I was shocked to see that the person shouting was [a County Supervisorial Candidate].” She continues, “He yelled that I was lying and that the person shouldn't believe me.”
In the interview Volunteer X did mention the name of the County Supervisorial Candidate,
although this article will not. Reason being, the campaign wants to protect their volunteers from additional political intimidation. The campaign will release the name in the future if necessary.
The student intern canvasses frequently at Hollister’s local stores and supermarkets with
Volunteer X. The student is informed about Measure N and skilled at teaching the community about the topic. Volunteer X accompanied her at Nob Hill and both experienced verbal assaults by two men supportive of Yes on Measure N. Volunteer X affirms, “The guy in the car kept yelling after getting support from the second man. I finally told him that I was going to take a picture of him and call the police, which I did.” Although, calling the police did not immediately stop the man from shouting, so Volunteer X captured a photo of one of the man’s license plates. Instead, he mocked the No on Measure N volunteers. The man left before the police arrived.
Volunteer X was asked if she knew the disturbing individuals and/or if they knew her?
Volunteer X personally knew the County Supervisor Candidate. She claims, “I've known [him]
for over 7 years. He lives in _____ and is running for Supervisor in my district.”
Volunteer X was later asked, “Do you feel less comfortable canvassing after the incident(s)?”
She believes she is less confident and less efficient than before the incidents. It was completely shocking and even puzzling. Volunteer X said, “ I think that the intention of the
yelling men is to disempower us, to make us afraid to hand out flyers, and to make us shut up. That's why our new project (Stand up to YES on N Bullies) encourages more people to come out to canvass with us, or do a short video and say that they support our volunteers.”
No on N has gained a significant amount of canvassers and supporters by publicizing the
bullying. The campaign has progressed throughout the past few weeks, and the harassment
incidents allowed No on N advocates to understand how to cope with unpleasant feedback.
The No on Measure N campaign encourage the public to give support to their volunteers by
filming a brief video stating that political intimidation is wrong and illegal. We are pleased with the big show of support. Many videos and photos are now posted on our Facebook page, Protect San Benito.