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May Day Protests To 'Reopen America' Take Place In Huntington Beach, Downtown LA

HUNTINGTON BEACH (CBSLA) — On May Day, which is also known as International Workers Day, when workers usually take to the streets for a higher minimum wage and benefits, demonstrators are demanding that stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of coronavirus be lifted so people can get back to work.

An organization called We Have Rights is in downtown Los Angeles and Huntington Beach, where beaches were closed by order of Gov. Gavin Newsom after large crowds descended last weekend. 

Demonstrators gather at Huntington beach to protest the state's stay-at-home order amid the coronavirus pandemic, on May 1, 2020 in California. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

In Huntington Beach, the demonstrators were shoulder-to-shoulder with beachgoers defying the beach closure orders. Several people were spotted riding bicycles and carrying surfboards to the water in defiance of the governor's orders. A fight broke out at one of the protests, but as demonstrations continued Saturday, police said they were largely peaceful.

"I'm here because I want our salon open," said protestor Tami Avants. "I think everybody is essential."

An estimated 2,500 to 3,000 people were just feet from the shores, calling for the governor to end shutdown orders.

"The lockdown needs to stop," said Cypress resident Robin Itzler. "We need to open up the economy. You can't have a country of everybody hiding at home."

The demonstration demanding that California be fully reopened also called for protestors in their vehicles to gridlock Pacific Coast Highway in both directions and for those on foot to fill the Huntington Beach Pier.

As protestors gathered, a judge denied an injunction filed by multiple O.C. cities to block Newsom's shutdown of the county's beaches.

In downtown Los Angeles, protesters from the same movement called for a walking protest and to gridlock the streets in and around Los Angeles City Hall.

"We can take other precautions," said Eric Rodriquez, who joined the protest downtown. "But to shut it down? It's a little too extreme."

One of the main issues for the protestors was the loss of jobs since nonessential businesses were forced to close.

"We're especially concerned for the people who have been plunged into poverty, including undocumented people who don't qualify for unemployment," said protestor Angela McArdle.

The demonstration downtown sparked a small counter protest of people calling for "humanity first." They were against calls to lift stay-at-home orders and said that to do so would be a "callous disregard for public safety and human life."

Similar demonstrations demanding that states reopen their economies across the country have included people wearing automatic rifles and ammunition, but We Have Rights said their demonstration is a peaceful protest and "absolutely no violence" will be tolerated. 

According to CBSLA reporters Michele Gile and Hermela Aregawi, the demonstrations in Huntington Beach and downtown L.A. remained largely peaceful.

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