Hundreds in Orange County Protest Orders to Stay at Home

April 21, 2020 Updated: April 21, 2020

SAN CLEMENTE (CNS)—Hundreds of people protested in San Clemente and Huntington Beach over the weekend of April 18–19 against the state, county, and local orders requiring people to stay at home to reduce exposure to COVID-19.

The majority of protesters in downtown San Clemente on Sunday did not wear protective face masks or stay at least six feet apart, according to news reports.

Human rights attorney Leigh Dundas told Fox11 she was concerned about constitutional rights.

“I understand there is a virus. I understand that it is serious, but the constitution was meant to be used in times such as these,” Dundas said. “I don’t believe that locking us indefinitely in our houses with very few of our first amendment rights for a period of months, possibly years is something that is allowed under the constitution even with the gravity of the virus.”

Nurse Donna Vidrine spoke out against the demonstration. “I think these people are disrespecting the healthcare professionals,” she said. “Nurses and doctors do not have the choice to stay home. We have to take care of these people who are gathering against the rules of the city of San Clemente.”

More than 200 protesters gathered the afternoon of April 17 at Walnut Avenue and Main Street in Huntington Beach, police said.

The department called in every available officer when protesters began violating local public assembly ordinances by walking in the middle of the street and carrying signs with sticks large enough to use as weapons, the Huntington Beach Police Department said on social media.

“Once we had sufficient officers in place, they utilized great restraint in dealing with circumstances that could have escalated into significant police action. We were able to contact the organizers of the protest and disperse the majority of the crowd peacefully without incident or without any arrests.”

Police asked the public to be patient and continue to stay at home so as not to endanger lives.

“These are people expressing their views,” President Donald Trump told reporters on April 17 at the White House coronavirus taskforce briefing. He has also told reporters, “They’ve got cabin fever. They want to get back. They want their life back.”