Protestors march down State Street
Several dozens gathered at noon on Saturday and marched down State Street in protest of the state’s stay-at-home order which applied to Santa Barbara County in the Southern California region.
Coordinated by the group WeHaveRights.org, the protestors carried signs and waved American flags, chanting phrases such as, “Open schools now,” “Recall Newsom,” “We want to work,” “We will not concede,” “Open our churches” and “We have rights.”
While a portion of the crowd was wearing face masks, many more were not.
“We’re sending a message to Gavin Newsom,” Barbara Batastini, one of the event leaders, said over a megaphone. “Let my people go. We want freedom, not tyranny.”
The protestors often called for the recall of Gov. Newsom, and passed out petition slips to everyone at the end of the protest to sign as a part of the effort for his recall.
“I’m here because I want to support free enterprise,” Cheryl Trosky, one of the protestors, told the News-Press. “I want to support freedom and our democracy, and oppose the tyranny of the Left that’s oppressing our American way.”
A few business owners and passersby showed support of the protest, coming outside their stores or restaurants and clapping, while others counter protested or told the crowd to wear masks.
“It’s about our freedoms, it’s about our constitutional rights, it’s to get our economy back on track, to let people get back to work,” Kay Bowman, another one of the event organizers, told the News-Press. “The statistics for COVID don’t really warrant us being shut down… Some of the businesses that barely survived the last shutdown aren’t going to make it this time.”
Many protestors carried signs, with some reading, “Freedom versus tyranny,” “Fear is the real virus,” “No work, no food,” “Businesses are dying” and “We are all essential.”
“It’s about moving the goalposts too,” protestor David Daryoush told the News-Press. “It was originally two weeks to flatten the curve, and then it was restrictions as a state, then regions… It’s constantly changing the narrative.
“We need permission from the governor to go get a haircut,” he said. “I need permission from the governor to go to the gym or send my kids to school. This is ridiculous.
“It’s the first time in history that we’re quarantining healthy people.”
Greg Hammel ran for the Goleta school board and was not elected. He was in attendance of the protest, and told the News-Press he came to “educate the populous on what’s going on.”
“No children have died of COVID. Zero,” he said. “I ran for school board and I wanted to open the schools based on the data, but people don’t review this data; they only review data of the total number of cases, which is not the whole story.
“I just say enough. Open and protect the people over 70,” Mr. Hammel said. “Warn them, teach them to avoid public spaces, give them the warning, but not the kids, because the kids are not in danger of this.”
The protestors marched from State and Gutierrez streets to around the 1100 block of State Street, and turned around and walked back.
Alexandra Engle, born and raised in Santa Barbara, attended the protest, and did not wear a mask.
“I came today because I’ve had enough, because there are so many erosions of freedoms and at this point, I have to take a stand for my rights and other people’s rights,” she told the News-Press. “We have mask mandates — which I’m not wearing one right now — I don’t believe that there is any emergency that requires me to decrease my oxygen to save people that have over a 99% survival rate.”
She said she believes businesses should be allowed to operate.
“We’re locking down now, for what? The lockdown didn’t work before; it’s not going to work now; it’s just going to take people out of business and it’s going to devastate families, so I have to stand up against this tyranny.”
Another protestor was Fred Baker, a 68-year-old who lives north of Goleta.
“I’ve been in some variant of a lockdown since February,” he told the News-Press. “I’m not sure I see the science behind the lockdowns.”
Another downtown protest is planned next weekend.