On Thursday, citizens of Auberry accused Governor Gavin Newsom, and Vice Presidential candidate and Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) of trespassing on private property that was ravaged by wildfires earlier this week for a photo opportunity.
Trespassing for a photo opportunity
Governor Newsom and Senator Harris were in the Fresno County town of Auberry earlier this week to survey the damage of the Creek Fire. After a briefing by Cal Fire and the U.S. Forest Service, the two visited the Pine Ridge Elementary School and other places in town touched by the wildfire before going onto property owned by the Patten family for pictures.After pictures of the two were released on Tuesday and Wednesday, members of the Patten family spoke out against the breach and how frustrated they were by using their family’s loss of their house and belongings for a photo op and to push their political agenda.
“Dear Governor Newsom you don’t know me but I’m one of your CA citizens,” said Bailee Patten in a Facebook post. “That truck you are standing by is my dads work truck. He has had that thing for as long as I can remember. That land with all the rubble your standing next too, that’s my house I grew up in. You never got my parents permission to go on our property, nor did you ask if we needed help. What you did do is take my families loss and parade it all over social media and news networks to push your agenda.
“That agenda can wait, right now you should be caring about the families of this state. Thankfully this community is #mountainstrong and we will thrive.”
Trampas Patten, Bailee’s brother, also posted about the photo incident on Thursday, adding that they haven’t been allowed to see the remains of their home yet while the two lawmakers did.
“What has me really frustrated right now is the fact that these two politicians used my parents loss for a photo opportunity to push their political agenda! Political party wouldn’t have made a difference in this moment,” noted Trampas. “Decent human beings that have character and class, wouldn’t air someone else’s misfortune on national television!”
“For the record, my parents haven’t even been let back in yet themselves, to sort through what is left of their lives, but these two felt the need to go traipsing around my parents property without permission. I guess those property taxes my parents pay allow politicians to do this! Private property doesn’t exist in California anymore!”
In an interview with Fox, Bailee added to her brother’s remarks, saying “When we saw those photos, it was, there aren’t words, because it’s like, we haven’t even seen our house. We haven’t seen our property. There is no house, we haven’t even seen our property.”
“This isn’t just devastation, this is our lives. This is where we grew up, these are our memories. And to not have that, to feel so helpless, and I guess that’s what we’ve all been thinking, is that we were so helpless because we weren’t there, we haven’t gotten to deal with our loss. Instead, we’re having to watch it play out on social media and news.”
Newsom, Harris talk about climate change on Tuesday
Harris and Newsom spoke about the town on Tuesday, noting that the Creek Fire and the rise in wildfires in recent years were a clear sign of climate change.
“The fire just swept through,” said Harris. “So everything is gone except the chimney. Those chimneys, they remind me – when you look at a neighborhood that’s been wiped out, those chimneys remind me of tombstones.
“It is incumbent on us, in terms of the leadership of our nation, to take seriously the extreme changes in our climate.”
Governor Newsom also noted that “Climate change is real. If you don’t believe in science, come to California and observe it with your own eyes. You cannot be in denial about this reality.”
Media experts have said that permission was likely needed to go on their property.
“If it had been on the street or other part of the town not privately owned, that would have been fine,” said former political campaign public relations worker Eleanor Jones to the Globe. “This is comparable to Donald Trump having the photo op in front of the D.C. church in June without permission. He was blasted for it, partly because the church didn’t approve it. Same here. The homeowners did not like the remains of their house being used as a background for a speech on climate change, which they felt was wrong.”
“And similar to Trump, they’re now facing a minor press crisis because of it. They picked the wrong yard to do it on too, as they chose a politically active house who doesn’t like either of them too much. And the effect is that Newsom and Harris now look unsympathetic, which went against a big reason why they were out there.”
Neither Harris or Newsom responded to press inquires about the incident as of Friday.
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