Flouting stay at home orders implemented by Governor Gavin Newsom to stem the spread of covid-19, protests gathered crowds in Huntington Beach and downtown Los Angeles to demonstrate their opposition to the executive order.
The two separate but coordinated protests took place on May 1, or May Day. Ordinarily, May Day marks a point in spring in which weather begins turning towards summer. With the warmer temperatures and traditional California sun reemerging, adhering to social distancing proves even more emotionally taxing.
However, Newsom maintains the state’s social distancing orders. While he announced Monday the state will begin phase 2 by the end of the week, many argue it isn’t fast enough. Thus, protests sprung up over the past several weeks demanding an immediate reopening.
Signs called quarantine unconstitutional and called all jobs essential. Signage paired with American flags, which protesters waved in abundance. Though, despite invoking solidarity with the general public, polls suggest most disagree with the demonstrators.
Protests Counter Public Opinion
In a poll conducted by Pew Research Center, a prominent polling institution, a majority of Americans expressed fear of an early reopening. Furthermore, other polls demonstrated a majority disapproved of Trump’s handling of the pandemic. These polls included registered Republicans, who also demonstrated their fear and disapproval.
In response, a number of conservative political groups fostered resentment for Democratic governors in states like Michigan and promoted protests earlier in April. Organizations like the Michigan Conservative Coalition and the Michigan Freedom Fund, with connections to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, take aim at Michigan Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s high approval rating and promote Trump’s 2020 candidacy. Trump himself caught on to the potential for political gain amid growing criticisms, taking to Twitter to promote the protests.
Following these April demonstrations, more continue to spring up. The two on May 1 in California were organized by a group known as We Have Rights.
With Monday’s announcement by Newsom that phase 2 will begin this week, protests may abate, but their political nature and origins suggest otherwise.