Some happy-ish endings for typically awful 2020 social media stories

Some happy-ish endings for typically awful 2020 social media stories

My home state of Idaho has been distinguishing itself with awfulness of late, once again making national news for deplorability, well-documented here by fellow Idaho native (and escapee) David Neiwert. In one particularly bad week, we had the Ammon Bundy gangs’ shutting down of public health board meetings, intimidating and threatening public officials and frightening their children, and Nazis vandalizing the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial, the only Ann Frank memorial in the country, with swastika stickers and the warning “we are everywhere.” This all followed “Small Business Saturday” in downtown Boise being made dangerous for everyone when more of Bundy’s maskhole followers marauded through businesses threatening “legal” action against shop owners for requiring masks in their stores and just generally being assholes.

There’s been gratifying pushback, at least. A group of folks who’ve just had enough organized The Idaho 97 Project right after the derailed public health board meetings, gaining nearly 12,000 signatures in a matter of days. “We, the undersigned, fully support sensible public health measures, aimed at protecting our health and safety in this dark hour of the coronavirus pandemic, including mask requirements, limits on large gatherings and medically-informed restrictions on bars, restaurants, schools and businesses,” the petitioners state, furthermore demanding “our duly elected government officials be allowed to do their constitutionally mandated jobs, free of intimidation and without putting themselves or their families at risk.” That movement, started on Twitter by a couple of kick-ass women, garnered more than 1,600 signatures in the first 24 hours. That happened because of social media, because of Twitter.

And the Anne Frank Memorial? When the story broke, this immediately happened:

And then this: 

The Anne Frank statue tonight. Tell me that this is Boise!

— Wassmuth Center (@IdaHumanRights) December 10, 2020

And this, along with tens of thousands of dollars in donations from all over: 

In just over a day, we’re closing in on 200 people from around the world donating for our crowdfunder to support #HumanRights. Hoping to make it to 1,000! @gofundme

— Russ Stoddard (@rstoddard) December 12, 2020

As for the “Small Business Saturday” protests? That was a difficult one. A local jeweler, a Twitter friend, posted this.

I just put a new sign on my door. I’m really disappointed that it’s necessary.

— Mike Rogers (@TenTonHeart) December 1, 2020

He got quite a bit of local media attention for it, sort of became the spokesperson for the small businesses in downtown Boise, taking a stand on their behalf. Unfortunately, that attention brought this:

Somebody broke into my shop early this morning. The jewelry was all in the safe, but they got my guitar, my really nice camera, my shop camera and some art. I’m pretty pissed.

— Mike Rogers (@TenTonHeart) December 10, 2020

It’s not clear whether the break-in was political, in response to his sign, or just opportunistic when someone discovered that there was a jewelry store in a sort of tucked-away location or both. The guitar and a family clock, of no value to anyone but him, were the hardest losses for Mike. In addition to being a jeweler, Mike’s a musician, and that guitar was really special to him and pretty much irreplaceable. 

Ok guys, here’s a description of my stolen guitar and some pics. Retweets much appreciated.

— Mike Rogers (@TenTonHeart) December 14, 2020

The word got out all over the community, through Twitter and Facebook, though prospects seemed pretty dim. The videotape of the burglary from an in-store camera didn’t reveal much about the masked (ironically) burglar and the fingerprints haven’t been processed yet. But then: 

Epic shout-out to Richard Mussler-Wright, who spotted it and realized it was mine, and the Boise Police Department for tracking down the tweaker who had it. She’s home. The officers made me promise to write a song called “tweaker tuning,” so that’s coming up someday…

— Mike Rogers (@TenTonHeart) December 20, 2020

Richard Mussler-Wright, by the way, is the development director for Ballet Idaho, in addition to being a very good egg. The guitar, Mike says, took a bit of a beating being left out in below-freezing temperatures for a couple of nights, but will be repaired. And the tweaker who ended up with it is likely to crack to Boise police about who he got the guitar from, making it slightly likelier that the clock, his Stetson and his “1 large stuffed penguin toy with slogan pins that is holding a miniature quilt” might just not be gone forever.

So out of this total dumpster fire of a year, in which social media as usual poured on the fuel, it also created some good. Even in Idaho. Sharing these stories, sharing the idea that perhaps there remains hope because there are more of us than there are of them—even in Idaho—is worth it. Because we’re not alone. We are looking out for each other, even online. That’s a thought to carry into what is going to be another really hard year, but one that at least has the light of hope in it. 

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