Saturday’s Quartzsite Liberty Festival made its mark on Quartzsite Saturday as planned, despite temperatures of 114 to 117 degrees.
The rally was arranged to protest the actions of the town’s council and police chief, most conspicuously the treatment of Quartzsite police officers who were suspended or fired in what the protestors say was retaliation for bringing formal allegations against Chief Jeff Gilbert.
Marchers chanted “Quartzsite Ten, oath-keeping men” as they walked over 2.5 miles from an RV park south of I-10, over the freeway bridge and along the streets of Quartzsite to Town Hall.
Several politically active groups were in attendance, including Oath Keepers, the Tea Party Patriots, the Sons of Liberty Riders and campaigners for Ron Paul for President 2012.
Many attendees carried flags, banners and signs. Some were armed with pistols or rifles, and cameras of all sorts. Law enforcement and other authorities were largely absent from the demonstration.
Chilled water bottles were available to the heat-weary crowd, and Grubstake bar and restaurant was flooded with people during a stop-off along the route. Some were seen pouring water over their heads. Others’ clothing appeared to be almost entirely soaked with sweat.
Quartzsite Mayor Ed Foster said people had flown in from around the United States for the rally, from states as far and wide as Alaska, Florida, Texas and Connecticut. “I live here and I’m having a hard time in this heat, so I know, for these people from [colder states], it’s gotta be tough on them”, he said.
Local activist Jennifer Jones, the video of whose arrest at a public meeting provoked outrage on the internet, said the people had braved the weather to send a strong message about the importance of liberty.
Standing in front of the doors of the council chambers that she was hauled out of months earlier, Jones told a cheering crowd, “God bless each and every one of you for coming and standing with the citizens of this town today. Right is right and wrong is wrong, and the rule of law applies to everyone.”
Among the speakers at the event were Arizona State Legislators Carl Seel and Judy Burges, and Libertarian Party activist Barry Hess.