Protesters criticize California’s coronavirus restrictions in Temecula

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Protesters gather at the corner of the Temecula Duck Pond to rally for support of opening businesses and public spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic, May 2. Valley News/Shane Gibson photo

Jeff Pack
Staff Writer

Fed up with what they consider to be governmental overreach and a crippled California economy caused by restrictions imposed on them by county and state leaders, more than 50 people gathered at the Temecula Duck Pond on Saturday, May 2 to express their dissatisfaction. 

“I think the government has overreached their bounds,” Matt Rowley, who was there with his son, Caleb, said. “They’ve gone way beyond what’s reasonable and this is our way of saying, no, we won’t take any more. I think people can be reasonable. We think people can do the right thing and we don’t need the governmental babysitters. We can do what’s right. 

“That’s it. That’s the main thing. Don’t step on my liberties. This is what our country is founded on.”

Most people in attendance waved flags and held signs as the midday traffic passed by. Drivers in cars honked in support which drew cheers and others yelled obscenities out of their car windows at the protestors, some of the protesters yelled back. 

“The numbers just don’t support being locked down any longer, I lost my job, my business is closing because of this, and this is ridiculous,” Wendy Ferguson of Murrieta said. “You got to come out and fight for our freedom. Someone has to do it. 

“There are people out here that are not happy that we’re standing here, but I’m wondering why are they out here? Why aren’t they locked down in their houses? They’re not happy that we want to be open.”

Anti-lockdown protester Anthony Lum voices his opposition to closures of businesses and public spaces amid the coronavirus pandemic at the Temecula Duck Pond. Valley News/Shane Gibson photo

Sandy Kinsman of Murrieta wants all the states to reopen. 

“I’m here because we need to open up the states, all of them,” she said. “The economy is going down because all these people lost their jobs. I lost mine. How long do they think we can hang on before California goes completely bankrupt. Are they going to wait until we do lose our houses and stuff? No, that’s not right. That’s not right.

“If you have to wear the mask at work, fine. It’s actually not healthy, but it’s all about the economy. Making people stay home that aren’t sick, that’s ridiculous.”

Erica Johnson of Menifee was in attendance with her whole family in tow. 

“We’re just standing up for our rights,” she said. “We have the right to protest peacefully and we have the right to move around as citizens. And so we’re trying to wake up everyone and tell them that, ‘This isn’t California, we’re not a dictatorship. Okay?’ (California Governor Gavin) Newsom is using way too much force and power and we’re just not going to stand for it anymore.

Anti-lockdown protesters rally for support in urgently reopening businesses and public spaces during the coronavirus pandemic. Valley News/Shane Gibson photo

“If there are people out there that feel like they don’t have a voice, well, when you see big numbers like this, then you feel like, Hey, maybe we can use our rights.”

Sonia Perez is a small business owner in Temecula. She attended the protests in Huntington Beach on Saturday. 

“We went out to Huntington Beach. I am a native Californian and my summers were spent in Huntington Beach,” she said. “I was there with all the people and there were so many people. To see the patriots out there fighting for freedom. And the cops, they were fine with it. It was a peaceful protest.”

She said her special events company has struggled since the restrictions were put in place. 

“All our contracts closed because everything we do is outdoor,” Perez said. “So we haven’t received one dollar since February. No stimulus check yet. No SBA disaster loan, no unemployment. We have zero bucks. That’s where we’re at and we’re tired of it.”

Sherri Grimsby and her family have been bouncing around trying to find a place to live since selling their home in March. 

“There were nights we didn’t know where we would be sleeping with our kids,” she said. “I tried to take my kids outside to ride their scooters and the police were called on me. It’s been heartbreaking for us, this whole process. We finally have gotten into our new house in Murrieta, but it kept getting delayed.”

She said she believes building up immunity to virus such as the coronavirus is key going forward. 

“We have been out here seven weeks out in the world,” Grimsby said. “We have not been quarantined. We have not gotten sick. We have strong immune systems. We eat really healthy. I think that is the most important thing to me. We need to push is that people need to start eating healthy and exercising. And when we’re forced to stay in our house where we cannot exercise, we cannot get vitamin D from the sun. We’re making our immune systems work, so we’re making the problem worse with the virus at this point.

Anti-lockdown protesters rally for support in urgently reopening businesses and public spaces amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Valley News/Shane Gibson photo

“I don’t think it’s about a virus anymore. I think that this has now become about control.”

Matthew Palomo of Temecula was the lone anti-protest person in attendance. He held signs praising essential workers and engaged in conversations with some of the opposing protesters, none of which were confrontational in his view. He said he was happy with everyone’s ability to share their views.

Matthew Palomo counter protests a group of protesters gathering to rally support in reopening businesses and public spaces amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Valley News/Shane Gibson photo

“We’re free to do this, which is awesome,” he said. “Obviously I want to open it up but I don’t want to be back in the same spot a couple of months from now.

“I think it’s sad people throwing out the constitution and stuff. Your rights aren’t bringing infringed, it’s for the greater good. We have to sacrifice now so we don’t have to deal with this monster again later.”

He said he had conversations with people at the protest who lamented losing their jobs but refused to work at grocery stores that were hiring. 

“I don’t want to work there either because I got a nice little desk job, but I got to do what I gotta do,” Palomo said. “Basically I’m just here giving a voice to the individuals who I feel follow more reason and scientific facts. And right now is not a good time to be together. I haven’t seen my family in a while, so it’s hard. But I’d rather deal with this now then go back to like an actual quarantine.”

Anti-lockdown protesters rally for support in urgently reopening businesses and public spaces during the coronavirus pandemic. Valley News/Shane Gibson photo
Anti-lockdown protesters flash signs to motorists at the intersection of Ynez and Rancho California roads in an effort to rally support in reopening businesses and public spaces during the coronavirus pandemic. Valley News/Shane Gibson photo
Christine Martin and her daughter Ava, 2, who made her own sign, rally for support in reopening businesses and public spaces amid the coronavirus pandemic. Valley News/Shane Gibson photo
Anti-lockdown protesters rally for support in urgently reopening businesses and public spaces during the coronavirus pandemic. Valley News/Shane Gibson photo
Anti-lockdown protesters rally for support in urgently reopening businesses and public spaces during the coronavirus pandemic. Valley News/Shane Gibson photo
Anti-lockdown protesters flash signs to motorists at the intersection of Ynez and Rancho California roads in an effort to rally support in reopening businesses and public spaces during the coronavirus pandemic. Valley News/Shane Gibson photo
Anti-lockdown protesters flash signs to motorists at the intersection of Ynez and Rancho California roads in an effort to rally support in reopening businesses and public spaces during the coronavirus pandemic. Valley News/Shane Gibson photo

 

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at jpack@reedermedia.com