Government Shutdown Rebellion Not Just for ParksBy: Lacy Langley - October 9, 2013
Rebelling against the government’s shutdown orders is not just for officials and parks anymore. Coming to light in the last week are several individuals who can be added to the ranks of veterans, who were ready to “storm the gates”, in wheelchairs, last week at the World War II memorial, which is now locked and wired shut to make sure those pesky veterans don’t get in to pay their respects.
Day 4 of shutdown: Vets are going to need wire cutters to visit WWII memorial. pic.twitter.com/Cyrm7OnLAp
— John McCormack (@McCormackJohn) October 4, 2013
One of those individuals is Bruce O’Connell, and on Friday, he defied U.S. Park Service orders telling him to close down his inn and restaurant that he owns with his 90-year-old mother called The Pisgah Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway southwest of Asheville, NC, according to ABC News. Though the Inn is private, it sits on federal park land and is subject to Park Service orders.
When the orders first came through, O’Connell closed willingly. But, the more he contemplated the scope of what was happening, he realized he must take a stand. “I’d just reached my breaking point.” He said he asked himself, “If not now, when; and if not me, who?” He added,
“It was a result of my having spent 35 years trying to work with the federal government, of my having been intimately involved as a contractor with the Secretary of the Interior and the Park Service. I’ve witnessed first-hand the process getting more and more dysfunctional over the decades.”
So, he proudly re-opened for business on Friday. However, his peaceful rebellion and nose-thumbing at the Man wasn’t long-lived. By Saturday, he was forcefully closed again, this time with armed guards on the watch.
On Sunday he posted a message on The Pisgah Inn’s website :
“We have ceased operations. I am furious all over again. Rangers are guarding our parking lot 24/7 keeping visitors out. It is downright scary. What the heck is going on and how are we all allowing it? I call for action now. Enough is enough.”
When O’Connel was asked where things stand as of now, he said, “We are closed. There are armed guards blocking access to my parking lot. Anybody who tries to get in, they get in front of them and tell them that they can’t.” He’s asked the guards how long they intend to stay, “They told me: until we’re 100 percent sure you won’t re-open.”
But don’t worry. O’Connell doesn’t stand alone. He says sympathetic letters and emails are flooding his home and business from all over the world. “I’ve gotten thousands of them,” he says, “from here to Tokyo.” Their message has been the same. “They all say: fight tyranny”.
Now, as of this writing, Wednesday October 9th, there is a message on the website that says, “The Pisgah Inn is authorized to provide services on the Blue Ridge Parkway under a concessions contract with the National Park Service.”
Perhaps his fight with tyranny was somewhat successful.
How far will the government push small business owners and individuals in this battle? And are the armed guards that keep people from private establishments and national park and memorial gates the ones considered “essential” employees? The coming weeks are sure to be interesting on the homefront…
Image via Pisgah Inn