Woman who organized San Diego stay-at-home protest could face jail time, fines

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The organizer of a San Diego “Freedom Rally” against coronavirus lockdown measures could face jail time and fines, police suggest.

Police informed 27-year-old Naomi Israel that she could face up to six months in jail and fines up to $1,000. The breach of public health orders would count as a misdemeanor.

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Israel told the San Diego Union-Tribune that she and her husband are both unemployed following the closure of nonessential businesses as part of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s measures to combat the spread of COVID-19. Israel urged others to gather in downtown San Diego to protest the restrictions.

“I don’t know how much longer I can go without being [employed], as many fellow Americans probably feel,” Israel said. “It’s important that we all get back to work in the safest way possible.”

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In a statement to the Sacramento Bee, California Highway Patrol (CHP) announced that it would no longer grant protest permits unless the gatherings are approved by public health officials.

“Permits are issued to provide safe environments for demonstrators to express their views,” the CHP said in a statement to the Bee. “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.”

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CHP issued the statement in response to protests outside of the state capitol on Monday in clear defiance of Newsom’s order that banned large gatherings.

California has seen protests in a number of cities as part of the unrest seen across the country in the face of extended lockdowns and stay at home orders.

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California is currently the fourth-most infected state in the country, with 37,369 confirmed cases and 1,469 deaths.