Beaver County Chief Solicitor Garen Fedeles wants the community to know that county officials did not endorse the use of giant inflatable caricatures of Donald Trump on the courthouse lawn as the president visited the county this week.
But they didn’t oppose their use either.
That’s how it should be, Fedeles insisted. Fedeles used Wednesday’s public work session to address some criticisms about Tuesday’s rally at the courthouse.
“Yesterday, there was a rally here in regards to … some of the issues I believe to be involved an anti-Trump rally, others had to deal with the environmental impact of the Shell facility. The county did get a proposal form in order to have that rally.
“Underneath the First Amendment of the Constitution, the representatives of this courthouse can’t either deny or allow a rally based on the content of what that rally is.
“So, I want to make it known to everyone that the rally yesterday did submit the appropriate request form, and pursuant to what we do with any of those request forms, the rally moves forward so long as their isn’t any type of security issues. Many times that’s like blocking the streets, blocking access to the courthouse, and that wasn’t done yesterday. Nor was there any electric used from the courthouse in blowing up any of the balloons, the individuals brought in their own generator.
“I just want to make the public aware that rally had nothing to do with whether anyone on this board or anyone in the courthouse either agreed or disagreed with the actual contents of it.”
Republican Commissioners Dan Camp and Sandie Egley both attended a rally held by Trump at the Shell construction site on Tuesday. Although local officials had hoped to get some face time with Trump, they remained relegated to the audience along with construction workers and other members of the general public.
Democratic Commissioner Tony Amadio stayed working at the courthouse while the president was in the area but did not go outside to greet protesters as the rally was taking place. Treasurer Connie Javens and Register of Wills Tracey Antoline-Patton, both Democrats, were seen briefly visiting with several of the protesters on the courthouse lawn but neither actively participated in the demonstration.
On June 3, 2018 an impromptu display that supported Trump and demanded justice for murder victim Rachael DelTondo was quickly removed by officials, who said the anonymous individual responsible for it had failed to submit proper paperwork to the county.
The front of the courthouse has been a scene of demonstrations spanning the political spectrum through the years. It has been used as a place of protest for county workers angry about stalled contract negotiations, a location for Christian devotees to celebrate holy events, and as a stage for both Republicans and Democrats to voice dissent.