California Highway Patrol halts protest permits after rally against Newsom's coronavirus restrictions

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After protesters at the state’s capitol defied social distancing guidelines Monday, California Highway Patrol said it would no longer issue permits for gatherings on state property, including the Capitol in Sacramento.

“Permits are issued to provide safe environments for demonstrators to express their views,” the CHP said in a statement. “In this case, the permit for the convoy was issued with the understanding that the protest would be conducted in a manner consistent with the state’s public health guidance.

“That is not what occurred, and CHP will take this experience into account when considering permits for this or any other group,” the statement said, according to the Sacramento Bee.

FILE - In this Monday, April 20, 2020, file photo, protesters calling for an end of Gov. Gavin Newsom's stay-at-home orders rally at the state Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

FILE - In this Monday, April 20, 2020, file photo, protesters calling for an end of Gov. Gavin Newsom's stay-at-home orders rally at the state Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

CENTRAL CALIFORNIA COUNTY WANTS NEWSOM TO LIFT STAY-AT-HOME ORDER FOR THEM BEFORE OTHERS

Hundreds gathered at the state’s capitol Monday to protest Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order, which was issued March 19. The governor’s order has no expiration date, but in-person schooling has been canceled for the remainder of the academic year. On Tuesday he said he foresees a loosening of the order but did not provide a specific date.

The protests were part of a nationwide movement known as “Operation Gridlock.” Californians fed up with being out of work drove their cars around the Capitol complex in downtown Sacramento honking horns. But at issue were the hundreds of others who stood shoulder-to-shoulder in protest in front of the building, defying social distancing guidelines.

Newsom said Monday he believed the protesters had planned to demonstrate from their cars rather than on Capitol grounds.

Additional protests are planned, but locations have not been announced. CHP said they will not occur on state property for the time being.

CALIFORNIA CHURCHES SUE NEWSOM OVER CORONAVIRUS STAY-AT-HOME ORDER 

“In the interest of public safety and the health of all Californians during the COVID-19 pandemic, effective immediately the California Highway Patrol will deny any permit requests for events or activities at all state facilities, to include the State Capitol, until public health officials have determined it is safe to gather again,” the CHP said.

Protests erupted across the state over the past week, with over 200 gathering in Huntington Beach, south of Los Angeles, on Friday donning signs such reading “Defy Fascist Lockdown,” “Stop the Tyranny, Open California,” and “We Deem Our Governor Non Essential.”

Over the weekend, hundreds more gathered in San Clemente, marching half a mile through town joined by drivers who honked in support.

So far California has faced 34,845 coronavirus cases and 1,326 deaths. Newsom’s early action with the stay-at-home order has been credited with keeping coronavirus numbers relatively low in the nation’s most populous state.

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Protests have erupted across the nation, in states such as Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania to protest what is seen by some as governmental overreach and an infringement on constitutional rights.