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Protesters in Huntington Beach call for full reopen of state, nation

Eight days after a group of 2,500 protesters made their way out to the Huntington Beach Pier, another sizable crowd gathered around the intersection of Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway.

An estimated 1,500 demonstrators turned up Saturday, Huntington Beach police spokeswoman Angela Bennett said. They called for both the state and the nation to fully reopen — both economically and socially — and protested precautions that have been implemented intended to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus.

It was an enthusiastic gathering that featured a walking protest, particularly at the crosswalks of Main and PCH, as well as the constant of motorists honking horns to show support.

Some demonstrators danced to songs such as Bob Marley’s “Get Up Stand Up” and Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” in front of the pier.

Jay Smith of Tustin said this was the second time he had come to Huntington Beach for a protest, saying he was motivated to do so because he said 1st Amendment freedoms were being taken away.

He brought three children, and one of his daughters held up a sign that drew attention to the freedoms of religion, speech and the press, as well as the rights to assembly and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Smith indicated that a priority for him was to open churches.

“We hope, first of all, the churches get opened because the pastors need to be the leaders in America, that talk about not only our freedoms in America, but our freedoms from sin,” Smith said. “There’s a worse virus that’s out there right now most people don’t know about, and that virus is a virus of sin, that will kill people not only physically but eternally.

“These pastors need to open up the churches and be bold. Pastors are what helped start America, and they need to be leaders now again.”

Chris Young of Lakewood also wants to return to church, saying, “I can’t go to church right now, and I go to church every Sunday. I worship there, and I can’t go right now, so it’s kind of hard for that.”

Corbin Ziemke of Seal Beach held up a sign that pushed for the reopening of small businesses.

“My thing is everything has a risk in life,” Ziemke said. “I just don’t think the government should tell us how we should handle those risks. If people want to go out and go to a shop and assume the risk of getting corona[virus] and getting sick and doing that to their family, then that’s on them.”

Ziemke added that he felt the government should not be able to tell people to stay at home.

“If you want to be scared and stay at home for another nine months or whatever, that’s fine. That’s your choice, but don’t infringe on my right to do what I want.”

Thang Hoang of Costa Mesa was wearing a mask within the crowd, and he said he had not come as part of the protest. He did, however, express concern about Gov. Gavin Newsom’s assertion that the first person to contract coronavirus in the state got it at a nail salon.

Hoang, who is Vietnamese, said that nail salons are a big part of the Vietnamese community.

“If I’m the governor, if [the first COVID-19 infection] comes from a nail salon, then I should have proof right there, right next to me on television, right next to me and say, ‘OK, here’s the proof,’” Hoang said. “I think our governor should apologize or else the whole nail industry is gone.”

Bennett said that the protest itself was peaceful and went without incident.

She said that a couple of arrests were made after the protest, as a couple of adult stragglers — one male, one female — jumped a fence to get onto the pier.

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