A major protest rally against California Governor Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order began at the state Capitol Saturday morning, with more than 2,000 demonstrators gathered in Sacramento to demand lockdown measures be lifted.
The demonstration, called ‘Liberty Fest,’ has been touted by organizers as the country’s largest Memorial Day weekend protest against lockdown measures put in place to limit the spread of coronavirus.
Hundreds of protesters gathered along the street across from the Capitol building before noon, some wearing t-shirts that read: “Resist. Rise. Revolt. Reopen.”
Saturday’s programming at the demonstration involved protesting, live music, barbecues and a tailgate party, according to The Sacramento Bee.
Reporters and officers at the scene wore masks, but most of the protesters did not, according to images shared to social media of the event. Many in attendance also failed to adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidelines on social distancing as they marched around the Capitol building.
While organizers had vowed to protest peacefully, some attendees were seen setting up haircut stations on the sidewalk and flouting lockdown restrictions. Such services that require the provider to be in close proximity with clients are still banned under the governor’s phase-in reopening plan.
Cosmetologist and hair stylist La Donna Christensen, 39, offered passersby haircuts near the Capitol. She reportedly set up six temporary haircut stations on the sidewalk, despite warnings from authorities that she could face a license suspension from the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology.
“We’re going to do haircuts for donations, basically try to show that being in the cosmetology industry … is one of the most sanitary industries in the state,” she told the Bee. “Why do they close down the salons but we can go to Home Depot, Walmart, Target? It’s ridiculous.”
Some protesters present came from out of town. The Los Angeles-based ‘Freedom Angels Foundation’ made travel arrangements to get South Californian protesters to the Capitol this weekend. “The State of California is tyrannically destroying the California economy, livelihoods, and the Constitutional Rights of HEALTHY free Californians,” the group’s website read.
One protester, Jennifer Joseph, told the Bee that she drove up from Orange County the night before to attend the event. “It’s time to open up the state,” she said. “This isn’t the country I grew up in.”
The California Highway Patrol has reportedly already spent nearly $1 million on resources to respond to anti-lockdown protests at the state Capitol prior to this weekend, and this latest protest is sure to significantly increase that figure.
Header: Demonstrators protest California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s continued statewide shelter in place order outside of San Francisco City Hall on May 01, 2020 in San Francisco, California. JUSTIN SULLIVAN/GETTY