As California enters its second month on lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, some are protesting the state’s decision to keep a shelter-at-home order in place.
In Sacramento, dozens of protesters assembled in front of the Capitol building last week after the California Highway Patrol issued demonstrators a permit.
In a statement to Sacramento’s CBS13, Governor Gavin Newsom said demonstrators were issued a permit because the state originally thought the protesters would remain in their cars. That didn’t happen, and now the CHP is cracking down on demonstrations by denying all protest permits connected with state facilities, including the Capitol.
Some demonstrators argue this is an infringement of their free speech rights, but criminal defense attorney Mark Reichel told CBS13 there isn’t much precedent in the law for this type of issue.
“There’s no case law on this,” Mark said, adding that protesters apparently weren’t being targeted because of their message.
“It’s not the speech or the content, but its the manner in which they were going to do it the state has determined would violate the health emergency that’s going on,” Mark said.
Governor Newsom issued a statewide stay-at-home order in mid-March shortly after the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic due to the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19.
Worldwide, more than 2.9 million people have contracted COVID-19 and around 203,000 people have died from the disease since it was first discovered in December 2019.
In California, more than 41,000 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since February. The state has recorded more than 1,600 deaths, though the official count may be higher.