While other Americans celebrate the holiday with picnics and parades, California secessionists are taking Independence Day literally.
The Yes California independence campaign, known as Calexit, plans to rally Wednesday at the state capitol in Sacramento, calling on like-minded residents to “stand up against American occupation of California” and for Trump supporters to “get out of California.”
“The Fourth of July is no longer a day to celebrate in California,” said the campaign, which is collecting signatures to place a secession measure on the 2020 ballot, in an Independence Day message.
Calexit has generated plenty of fireworks with its effort to spin off California as a separate country, but billionaire Tim Draper generated the biggest bang in April when he qualified his three-Californias measure for the November ballot.
The initiative, now named Proposition 9, is aimed at making California more governable by dividing it into three more manageable states named Southern California, which would include San Diego and the Central Valley; Northern California, encompassing San Francisco, and California, which would hold Los Angeles.
“It’s beautiful weather, I love California, but it’s now 50th in quality of life because people can’t afford to live here, and they move,” Mr. Draper said Monday on Fox Business.
So far Proposition 9 has shown little support in the polls, but Mr. Draper said the proposal is moving in the right direction.
“It started at 13 percent in favor and then it went to 17 percent in favor and now you said 27 percent in favor,” Mr. Draper said. “What happens is as people start thinking about it, they say, yeah, I’d like to see my kids have a better education, yeah I’d like to have better infrastructure, yeah, I’d like to have lower taxes, and I think you could have all that.”
The Fourth of July has special significance for New California, which seeks not to secede but to split the state in two along rural-urban lines, following procedures laid out in Article IV, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution.
About 200 members fanned out Tuesday to read the organization’s latest “grievance against the state of California” on the steps of 18 county court and government buildings.
“The Founding Fathers laid down their grievances in the Declaration of Independence, and that’s the process we’re following,” said New California co-founder Paul Preston. “It’s really kind of exciting to see the Declaration of Independence utilized again.”
The group issued its own declaration of independence on Jan. 15, and has since relayed 24 grievances, one per week, as it seeks to gain county support and ultimately persuade the state legislature to divide the state.
“Our message is we’re actually in the process of a real Declaration of Independence procedure,” said Mr. Preston. “It’s playing out exactly that way.”
Terry Gherardi, spokesman for the State of Jefferson, which has filed a federal lawsuit in search of a two-state solution, said his movement also has much in common with the nation’s founding.
“As we celebrate the 4th of July and our independence, the 23 Counties of the State of Jefferson remind everyone, the importance of equal representation for all citizens in the 58 Counties of California and other states, we the people of Jefferson also seek our independence from the oligarchy governing the State of California, forming the new State of Jefferson,” he said in a statement.
The tone couldn’t be more different at Calexit, where organizers Louis Marinelli and Marcus Ruiz Evans have framed their independence campaign as a reaction to American imperialism and the Trump administration.
Calexit’s Fourth of July message blasted the “ancestors of those undocumented immigrants from the United States who settled in California without invitation, decimated the local population through disease and genocide, stole the natural resources from under their feet, and declared California an American territory.”
“For the 172nd time, these Americans, now numbering in the millions with just as many American flags and Donald Trump’s red baseball caps, will celebrate their independence this Wednesday on occupied land. How ironic,” said the statement. “But you can bet the Yes California Independence Campaign will not sit quietly along the sidelines.”
Calexit seeks to qualify a ballot measure that would direct California’s governor to work with Congress on separating the state from the rest of the nation.