“Why do you publicly support QAnon,” two callers requested this week through the mayor’s month-to-month “Coffee with the Mayor” group entry radio broadcast.
“What does the Punisher symbol mean to you?” requested one other caller, referring to the comedian ebook antihero icon that has been adopted by QAnon followers. “Are you concerned that the publicity received as a result of your stance on QAnon will hurt our reputation?”
Mayor William Armacost answered every query on his radio program calmly, patiently and with scant apology about his rising web consideration as a mayor who known as the conspiracy concept a “truth movement.”
“I have never publicly stated I support it,” Armacost mentioned, referring to QAnon. “I’m an information seeker. I should have kept my personal feelings to myself. I’m here to talk about our beautiful little town of Sequim.”
But a large quantity Sequim residents have organized a petition to reinstate town supervisor, who resigned earlier this month. They name the mayor a harmful risk after plenty of suspected QAnon followers had been arrested for his or her alleged roles within the Jan. 6 US Capitol riot.
“The people that led the Capitol insurrection were Q leaders,” mentioned Shenna Younger, a Sequim resident main Sequim Good Governance League, a grassroots motion that hopes to unseat the mayor. “This isn’t just a conspiracy theory. This is serious.”
‘QAnon is a fact motion’
Sequim’s metropolis council facilities round a salaried metropolis supervisor that serves as chief govt. That means Armacost does not have the ability allotted to most US mayors.
Most Sequim residents barely paid consideration to Armacost till final August, when he broadcast a shocking assertion throughout “Coffee with the Mayor.”
Asked about QAnon, the mayor replied, “QAnon is a truth movement that encourages you to think for yourself. If you remove Q from that equation, it’s patriots from all over the world fighting for humanity, truth, freedom and saving children and others from human trafficking.”
Armacost then inspired his listeners to observe a QAnon video crammed with the conspiracy theories a couple of cabal of Satan-worshiping, baby sex-trafficking group shaped as a part of a “deep state” looking for to annihilate Donald Trump.
The video echoes the unfounded claims promoted by QAnon. Since its origin, QAnon moved from the darkest corners of the web as a single conspiracy concept to baseless theories about elections, world monetary methods and human trafficking.
Earlier this month, town council authorized Bush’s sudden resignation after a shock movement from Armacost. The resignation of the favored metropolis supervisor alarmed Sequin residents who imagine the general public conflict over QAnon led to Bush’s departure.
Bush instructed CNN he wouldn’t touch upon his departure.
On Thursday’s “Coffee with the Mayor” broadcast, residents like Karen Hogan known as in to demand an evidence.
“We have philosophical differences between the city council and the city manager,” Armacost mentioned.
“What are those differences?” Hogan fired again on the decision.
“I’m not at the liberty of revealing those,” Armacost mentioned. “We have great differences, and we will leave it at that.”
Two callers into the mayor’s broadcast then requested, “Why do you publicly support QAnon?”
“I have never publicly stated I support it,” Armacost mentioned. “I’m an information seeker and I should have kept my personal feelings to myself.”
Residents who shaped the Sequim Good Governance League dispute the mayor’s protection.
Armacost’s opponents level to the mayor’s private Facebook web page, the place Armacost has shared a number of posts of disinformation and the phrase “WWG1WGA,” a rallying cry that QAnon supporters have adopted, that means, “Where we go one, we go all.”
They additionally say the mayor has been carrying a lapel pin on the digital metropolis council conferences this 12 months. The pin, plainly seen on the recorded metropolis council conferences, is a cranium matching the Punisher image favored by QAnon believers. The mayor says the pin is in help of regulation enforcement.
Younger says 500 folks have joined the Sequim Good Governance League in simply two weeks. They worry that the departure of town supervisor indicators the mayor might additional affect the city.
“People are awake now,” Younger mentioned. “They want to participate, and they want to be involved.”
Rick Perdue, who just lately moved to Sequim from the East Coast, mentioned he was shocked to listen to concerning the mayor of his new city, which he described as reasonable and welcoming.
“I didn’t think we’d have this kind of a nutcase here. He should represent the values of the community, not his crazy right wing QAnon conspiracy stuff,” Perdue mentioned.
Perdue factors out that Sequim is in Clallam County, a bellwether county that has picked the successful President in each election since 1980. The county, says Perdue, represents the political sentiment of the nation, which is why he’s alarmed by the mayor’s phrases.
“There’s a lot of people that believe this,” Perdue mentioned. “Look at the stuff that’s going on in Congress now. We’re certainly not unique in having high level people that follow the QAnon conspiracy theory information.”
‘I even learn the pretend information’
On Thursday, CNN approached Armacost outdoors the radio station following his program. For 15 minutes, the mayor calmly and politely answered questions.
When quoted again what he beforehand mentioned on his radio program, calling the conspiracy concept a “truth movement,” Armacost mentioned, “What I call is the opportunity as a patriot and as an American citizen to seek truth. That comes through analysis and research. People need to make up their own mind to make up their own homework.”
The mayor mentioned he regretted telling residents to view the QAnon video, however he did not acknowledge the video’s outlandish content material. Without prompting, the mayor then diverted the dialog to human trafficking. One of the promoted QAnon conspiracy theories is that the members of “deep state” interact in trafficking.
“I think if you take the time to do the research, there are many parallels that you may read that have been historically in the books of things that have happened,” Armacost mentioned. “The human trafficking is one of them. We’ve had a great opportunity to seek more people that are in peril and rescue them and try to recover a normal life.”
When requested whether or not he is a QAnon follower, the mayor mentioned, “I entertain all resources. I even read the fake news, to even see if there’s a fabric, a thread of fabric that contains truth.”
Armacost says he might by no means help defacing a constructing just like the US Capitol or making an attempt to hurt or disrupt a public official. But he questioned whether or not QAnon beliefs fueled a few of the Capitol insurrectionists, regardless of video exhibiting Jan 6 rioters carrying Q shirts and carrying Q indicators as they breached the Capitol.
“I’ve watched a lot of videos of what appears to be scenarios versus what has continued to run. I have no way to confirm that that was one group versus another,” Armacost mentioned. “Just because the angle of the camera showed this view, it may not have shown another angle that shows a totally different scenario. I’m not denouncing it, but I’m not committing that this frame that I saw on a clip is the truth versus they didn’t show all the information.”
Ultimately, the mayor says what he believes privately carries no impression on his non-partisan job as mayor of Sequim.
On whether or not he would denounce QAnon as involved Sequim residents have requested him to do, the mayor mentioned, “I’m not supporting it. I’m not in a position…I’m one small man that runs a small business in a small little town. I don’t have the authority to denounce or promote either.”
Correction: An earlier model of this story incorrectly acknowledged that Sequim residents have organized a petition to oust Mayor William Armacost. They have organized a petition to reinstate town supervisor.