Some 3,000 people held a raucus May Day demonstration at Huntington Beach Friday, protesting the closure of California beaches and the state’s stay-at-home mandate.
The protesters — many wearing no masks and some carrying surfboards and American flags — massed in throngs despite Gov. Gavin Newsom directing all state and local beaches to close Friday to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Newsom’s mandate quickly sparked backlash from local government officials in Huntington Beach and elsewhere on the Orange County coast, which last week had opened up the beaches only to see the governor close them again.
Huntington Beach resident Mike Murray slammed the governor and previous reports that 40,000 people had packed beaches last weekend.
“I didn’t see 40,000 there and the people who were down there were all spaced out, so I think [the governor] is nuts,” Murray told the Los Angeles Times.
Friday’s protest included people carrying banners that read, “All Jobs are essential” and “Recall Gavin Newsom.”
Some protesters wore backwards Trump 2020 caps while lining up to confront cops on horseback.
One photo shows a modified Gadsden flag depicting the popular QAnon mantra “When We Go One We Go All” instead of “Don’t Tread on Me.”
Some protesters wore face coverings — but most ignored proper social distancing guidelines of standing six feet apart, the outlet reported.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement that it didn’t plan to make arrests at its local beaches.
“As long as people are social distancing and doing what they’re expected to do, the sheriff does not have interest in criminalizing people enjoying the beach,” sheriff’s spokeswoman Carrie Braun told the outlet.
The number of confirmed cases in Orange County grew to more than 2,500 on Friday.
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