May 23, 2020 reopen California rally in Sacramento. (Photo: Twitter)
On Saturday, an estimated 2,000 people protested the state lockdown outside the State Capitol Building in Sacramento, the first of many planned protests across the state during Memorial Day weekend.
The protest in Sacramento, called Liberty Fest, was led by the Freedom Angels Foundation, who have led numerous protest events around California in May.
Saturday’s protest, along with the dozens of protests that have occurred this month alone throughout the state, was against the statewide lockdown and the subsequent business and service shutdowns. Governor Gavin Newsom was a particular target of protesters ire due to the slow nature of his four phase reopening plan. As of Saturday, most counties in California had only reached the second phase, which allows restricted reopenings of businesses such as retail stores and restaurants. Phase 3, which would allow for reopenings of houses of worship, barbers, hair salons, and sporting events with no attendance, isn’t expected to be in place until next month.
“We’re here because we need the state to reopen,” said protester Sharon Warner. “Newsom is hurting millions of Californians and dooming countless small businesses because of his refusal to give Californians a choice.
The stay-at-home orders need to end now if we want any chance of stability.
At least give citizens an option. Let us have our freedom here.”
Other protesters shared the sentiment.
“All jobs are essential at this point,” added “Juan,” an out of work home renovation contractor. “Everything dried up in March. People have a lot less money coming in to spend. And there’s a solution to get everyone back to work but California and [Governor Newsom] aren’t allowing us.”
“I can’t tell you how much we all need the state to reopen right now. We have safe measures to battle coronavirus. What we don’t have are measures to protect being out of work this long.”
“At this point there’s no other option but to open up.”
Los Angeles Freedom Rally February 24, 2020. (Photo: Freedom Rally)
State officials and medical experts have repeatedly said that the phased reopening will continue because of public health concerns, noting that rates still remain high in many areas of the state. White House officials have even noted concern of the spread in Los Angeles County.
“The [4 phase] plan is based on facts and data, not ideology,” said Governor Newsom earlier this week during a conference.
While peaceful, the protest was also marred by the lack of permission to have a rally outside the Capitol Building. Both the California Highway Patrol and the Sacramento Police Department confirmed that they had not given permits for the protest, leaving protesters at risk of traffic and control dangers.
The Saturday protest also follows protests earlier in the week in San Clemente where 8 protesters were arrested by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department for vandalism and trespassing.
Evan V. Symon is the Senior Editor for the California Globe. Prior to the Globe, he reported for the Pasadena Independent, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and was head of the Personal Experiences section at Cracked. He can be reached at email@example.com.