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Offensive signs reveal divided Prescott, simmering extremism

Offensive signs reveal divided Prescott, simmering extremism
Posted at 7:50 PM, Jan 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-21 07:55:01-05

PRESCOTT, AZ — At least half the country was celebrating President Biden's inauguration Wednesday, but others were defiant about the results.

In Prescott, a dozen people gathered on street corners outside the historic courthouse holding "Not my President" signs and wearing "Fraud" t-shirts.

Less than a mile down the street, a gas station employee had put up marquee signs about "white pride month" with false claims about President Biden.

"That’s terrible. It’s disappointing. I don’t know who owns this place but I will never come back," said Bob Pell, a Prescott resident.

The lone employee of the store was fired just hours after she told ABC15 she did it "for attention." She said she knew there could be ramifications, but the "trolling" was worth it in her mind.

She also told U-Haul she would not take down the signs. So the Valley-based company pulled their affiliation, and all the equipment, from the Shepard Express, unbeknownst to the owner.

"I was disgusted by the sign, personally," said Prescott Mayor Greg Mengarelli. "It is not indicative of mainstream citizens here in Prescott.

More Arizonans seem to be moving from the mainstream though, towards the fringes.

At a Black Lives Matter event in September extremism was on full display in the city's historic square.

"They outnumbered us probably 3 to 1," said activist Rosemary Dixon.

In attendance at the counter-protest were armed militia members and other extremists, some flaunting white supremacist flags and tattoos.

"What I saw was children being spit on, being told to go home, [that] they did not belong here, [counter-protesters] swearing at them."

"In the last year we have seen a lot of different extreme groups with some extreme views. You see that all across the country," said Mayor Mengarelli. "Everybody here in Prescott wants to be open and welcoming... And we continue to work on any of these small areas that might exist. We can't control every individual."

Some local activists though, say Mayor Greg Mengarelli and the city need to do more to denounce racism and those seeking to drive out diversity.

"We want to see some action behind those words when it comes to helping Prescott feel like it really is inclusive enough to earn the title of everybody’s hometown," said Jeff Daverman, a leader with Prescott Indivisible .

"I would like to see them do a lot more," said Dixon. "We need to see diversity and inclusion in the city’s strategic plan."