With megaphones, posters and American flags, more than 300 local residents gathered in Valencia on Tuesday to rally for the reopening of California, after a statewide shutdown imposed in an effort to help reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus.
People of all ages, some with and others without personal protective equipment, took to the intersection of Valencia Boulevard and McBean Parkway to express their opposition to the statewide stay-at-home directive that has ordered Californians to quarantine and has temporarily shut down many workplaces.
Among those present was resident Liz Caddow, the Trinity Classical Academy co-founder, who helped organize the event along with other members of the community.
“We came out here to support our community because part of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is being able to work and care for your family. In a safe way, I think everyone’s learning that we can do that in a safe way given that there are a multitude of businesses that are considered essential already doing that,” she said.
Most Americans have followed the lockdown directives and safety guidelines but many are questioning the true risk of COVID-19, according to a statement issued by organizers prior to Tuesday for the rally, dubbed “Reopen Santa Clarita Rally,”
“Americans equally question whether the economic and psychological toll imposed by government measures is justified against the true risk of the virus, and particularly in view of other policy tools available to protect public safety,” read the statement.
Another resident, Jennifer Argo, who attended with six of her nine children, said it was important for her to take her children and send a message.
“We talked at home and talked about that it’s people’s right to stay home if they’d like but it’s also our right as Americans to get out and work,” she said.
Tuesday’s protest follows other protests seen across the nation, including in Orange County, where Gov. Gavin Newsom scolded those defying the stay-at-home order.
In Santa Clarita, which remains largely closed under Los Angeles County’s safer-at-home directive, Mayor Cameron Smyth attended and heard from protestors.
“I’m not surprised by the turnout given the number of emails and calls that I and the rest of the council have received over these last several weeks. I think it was important, just for me to show up and let people know that we at City Hall hear their concerns. We know that this is unprecedented and people are struggling, and we in City Hall want to get our community open as quickly, but safely as possible,” he said while wearing a mask.
Santa Clarita is expected to follow the county’s reopening guidelines once county officials make an announcement. Newsom announced Monday that some nonessential businesses, including many retailers, could reopen on Friday with some limitations.