California Sheriff’s Plan To Participate In Inaugural Parade Angers Protesters

Jason Chulack Reporting Intern
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A California Sheriff’s Posse is planning on participating in the presidential inaugural parade on Jan. 20, but some residents are not very happy about it.

Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke held a fundraiser at the Elk’s Lodge in Merced, Calif. on Sunday to raise money for the Sheriff’s Posse’s trip to Washington, D.C., however the event which hosted a couple hundred people, faced a group of protesters outside, according to The Merced Sun-Star.

The Merced County Sheriff’s Posse, founded in 1948, is a non-profit group and currently includes 14 horses and about 20 volunteers.

Prior to the fundraiser on Sunday, the Merced County Sheriff’s Office had raised $30,000 of its goal of $80,000. The group is adamant about participating even if it doesn’t reach the fundraising goal.

The protesters were upset over the possibility of the Board of Supervisors allocating $10,000 to help fund the trip, even though the funds would come from a part of the budget aimed at marketing and promoting tourism. The main goal of the sheriff’s fundraising efforts were intended to support the transfer of 14 horses in temperature-controlled trailers across the country.

“I was upset to see Vern Warnke using the Elks, a wonderful organization that raises money for scholarships and to help those in need, to ask for money to prance before Donald Trump,” protester and UC Merced research assistant Jasmine Armstrong told The Daily Caller.

Another protester, Molly Carolan, told The Merced Sun-Star “we don’t think the Sheriff’s Posse represents Merced County very well,” noting that a majority of Merced County residents voted for Hillary Clinton.

The Merced County Board of Supervisors were ready to vote on the allocation of funds on Tuesday and heard from angered residents before the vote. Before it even came to a vote, Sheriff Warnke announced that through the support of the community they had raised enough funds to support the trip and no longer needed money from the county, according to The Merced Sun-Star.

About $60,000 total was raised for the Sheriff’s Posse’s trip to Washington, with about $25,000 to $30,000 being raised at the Elk’s Lodge on Sunday.

Protesters feel that the Sheriff’s Posse’s planned participation in the inaugural parade is a political stunt, but Sheriff Warnke said that they had decided in October to participate in the inaugural parade, regardless of who was elected president.

“It’s not about the person, it’s about the process,” he said.

This won’t be the first time that the Sheriff’s Posse has participated in the inaugural parade either. They were a part of Richard Nixon’s parade in 1971 and George W. Bush’s parade in 2005, and were even a part of the nation’s 1976 Bicentennial Celebration.

In response to the protests Sheriff Warnke said “they’re not going to tell me this posse isn’t going to D.C.”