[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]
A group of self-described “Patriots” showed up at the Washington state Capitol building last weekend, demanding the removal of the “communist” flag of China from the flagpoles in front of the rotunda. When a state employee arrived and took the flag down, with assistance from a state trooper, they then claimed victory.
However, according to a spokesman for the Washington State Patrol (WSP), the flag – being flown to honor a visit from China’s U.S. ambassador, Cui Tiankai, who met with Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday – had been scheduled to come down on Saturday anyway. The man shown in a video posted by the “Patriots” bringing the flag down was a state employee, and he stored the flag afterward as he would normally.
Nonetheless, the video shows the glee of the protesters, who proclaim the state trooper one of their own: “Now that’s an oath keeper there,” says Anthony Bosworth, the leader of the protest. “Making sure the communist flag comes down. That’s an officer I can support.” Then they stood at attention with their Tea Party “Gadsden” flags until the flag was fully down.
At Fox News Insider, the flag removal was touted with the headline, “Patriots Helped Take Down Communist China Flag at a US State Capitol,” while a similar headline over a story at the Washington Times likewise described the removal as something inspired by the protesters.
WSP spokesman Robert Calkins said the flag was originally scheduled to come down last weekend, and when the trooper noticed the protesters, he contacted groundskeepers and ascertained that the flag was scheduled to come down that morning, so they simply expedited the process to avert any conflict.
“On Monday, the Scottish flag was flying,” noted Calkins. He said the standard state protocol is to fly the flag of any nation recognized by the United States government when a dignitary from that nation visits the Capitol. China is Washington state’s largest trading partner, with two-way trade between the two totaling well over $20 billion annually. It’s also the state’s largest export-business client, with China consuming over $15 billion in goods produced in the state each year, notably agricultural products such as apples.
Bosworth and his gang of protesters are becoming familiar sights to the state’s law-enforcement officers. In February, he led a group of about 50 gun-rights protesters in a failed attempt to get arrested by bringing their guns inside the statehouse chambers while the Legislature was in session, though they did so on a day when the Legislature was not in session. In March, he led a similar protest outside the doors of the federal courthouse in Spokane, which likewise led to no arrests.