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'Re-Open California' Protesters Gather At State Capitol, Again Flouting Social Distancing Orders

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — More than 30 protesters were arrested at the California capitol on Friday as upwards of 1,000 people urged Governor Gavin Newsom to end the stay-at-home order.

The arrests came as CHP officers in front of the building started moving protesters off of the steps. The group "Re-Open California: End The Lockdown" organized the protest to push Gov. Gavin Newsom to end the stay-at-home order over the coronavirus.

Officers say 33 protesters were arrested and cited for violating a public health order and protesting on capitol grounds. Of those arrests, only one person was taken to the Sacramento County Jail, CHP said.

California Highway Patrol stopped approving permits for protests at the State Capitol after the previous "Re-Open California" protest saw demonstrators flouting the social distancing order. But that didn't stop the scores of people -- many carrying American flags -- from flocking to the capitol.

This time, organizers originally said protesters would be staying in their cars; however, the scene outside the State Capitol is showing most protesters are outside and gathered in a large group.

"Why is it that I have to be arrested for defending my rights?" protester Angie Salmon said.

Salmon was among the 33 protesters arrested.

"They pulled me off of the railing forcefully and they put me in the detainment room," Salmon said. "We weren't doing anything. We were just protesting, exercising our rights because this is an unconstitutional medical martial law thing that's happening right now."

CHP Assistant Chief Josh Ehlers said the arrestees were taken off capitol grounds by the capitol protection section.

"We always know that we're going to encounter some resistance whether it's passive or active," Ehlers said.

People from all walks of life were at the protest including moms calling for schools to reopen and residents from rural areas who want to get back to work. All are feeling the fatigue of this pandemic.

"Friends around me, I mean, they've have lost 95% of their revenue. I'm a 40-year-old guy, I'm a doctor, I'm a former marine, I've got two kids, and it's fascinating to see 700 SWAT and police officers out here," one man said.

Governor Newsom was asked about the protest at his daily coronavirus press conference on Friday and urged the protesters to take precautions against coronavirus.

"Take care of yourselves. Wear a face covering. Do justice to social distancing," Newsom said.

The governor deferred commenting about the permitting decisions on the protest.

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