Downtown Riverside protest demands end to stay-at-home order

protest-2Photos by Angel Pena

By Erik Galicia

Feelings of financial desperation and theories of a coming fascist government hit the streets of Riverside on April 25.

Dozens converged on downtown, marching down Market and 14th Streets, demanding that Riverside County and California be reopened.

The protest was the latest in a string of nationwide demonstrations opposing pandemic restrictions meant to slow the spread of COVID-19. Some said they represented those who are out of work and will not be able to sustain much longer. 

Protester Bassad Pesci said that although he is still coping well financially without work, he is looking at the bigger picture.

“I’m ok,” Pesci said. “But there’s plenty of people who are gonna have a complete break apart of their lives if this goes on much longer.”

According to Pesci, COVID-19 statistics do not add up to a crisis. He claimed that COVID-19’s fatality rate, a rough estimate of which can be calculated by dividing deaths by known cases, could be as low as 0.2% because health officials are finding infections to be 10 times higher than originally thought.

The California Department of Public Health reported 1,651 deaths out of 41,137 known cases, amounting to a fatality rate of around 4% as of April 25. That number jumps to nearly 6% when looking at national numbers. These percentages are 20 and 30 times higher, respectively, than Pesci’s estimate. But Pesci maintained that the true number of infections is not known.

“If you’re scared, quarantine yourself,” Pesci said.

Opinions among protesters about the severity of the pandemic varied. While admitting the seriousness of the situation, marcher Jess Perez said it is now controlled enough to reopen California.

“I think if people are sick they need to get treatment,” Perez said. “If people are afraid to get sick, they have the right to stay home. But it’s manageable now.”

Perez also likened the shutdown to the activities of Nazi Germany, calling it a government experiment.

“I think our government is overreaching and they’re suppressing the people,” Perez said. “Causing businesses to shut down, people to lose income, not be able to provide for their families, not be able to get well when they need to because they don’t have the means to do it. Then they become completely reliant on the government.”

A protester who wished to be identified only as Lona expressed a harsher judgement of the situation, describing it as an elite-led conspiracy to wipe out masses.

“We wanna open California from that fascist pig (Gov. Gavin) Newsom,” Lona said. “To have a fascist government shut down my country and consider my brother a nonessential, f— them.”

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation contributed to $125 million in funding for what it calls the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, a project aiming to develop treatments for the virus, according to their website. Lona called this an attempt to create lethal vaccines, echoing rising theories that argue Bill Gates holds some responsibility in the pandemic.

“I know the pig is planning to kill all of humanity with his little vaccines,” she said. “Two million are gonna die. If that isn’t enough, you have Leon Musk and Bill Gates killing you with 5G towers.”

Despite protests, 75% of Californians oppose an abrupt end to the stay-at-home order, according to a California Health Care Foundation poll published April 24. A national HuffPost poll conducted between April 17 and 19 found that 60% of Democrats and 58% of Republicans feel pandemic restrictions are reasonable.

Just a mile away from the march, Riversiders at the farmers market on the intersection of Fifth and Main Streets said it is not the right time to reopen society.

“Not until it’s ready,” Daryl Norsell said. “Until the people who have spent their lives studying say so. I trust those guys. It’s a temporary thing.”

Norsell called the protests “ignorance on display.”

Craig Sheldon, a vendor, agreed.

“It’s not like the government is just saying this,” Sheldon said. “They’re going off of the recommendations of the entire medical community. Human lives are far more important than dollar signs.”

Although Newsom has announced that California’s stay-at-home order does not have a set expiration date, Riverside County’s order is set to expire April 30. An extension has yet to be announced.

4 responses to “Downtown Riverside protest demands end to stay-at-home order

  1. Typical of Trumper idiots. Save your life at home and you Won’t be labelled a murderer if you go out without mask and gloves.

  2. Are the “people” finally waking up to the truth of what is going on? Many are ignorant of what is going on because they fail to spend time to study and research the people in government and others associated with governments and corporate industries. And our main stream media is so one sided it’s just too obvious they are corrupt and bought and paid for by an ideology and an agenda for a one world
    government, a new world order, globalism. Do your homework folks!

  3. The numbers (rate) is also less accurate because the number of deaths is grossly inflated to get more funding. There are countless reports from family members that cause of death for their deceased loved ones is erroneously reported as COVID-19 when already terminally ill. This is not an argument in support of the protest, just a fact for those who criticized others without consideration. It’s difficult to trust when the people we are supposed to trust exaggerate and/or lie.

  4. I’ll be honest with you this is the dumbest thing I can ever hear. First of all we are in a pandemic the government has made it so you are not able to be evicted your bills you can actually catch up with and if your job is essential you can go to work not only that but you get paid to be home. Now I know this all sounds crazy and to good to be true but look at this virus and the timeline of how it began.
    Hit by random
    Toilet paper randomly sold out
    Now groceries and cleaning supplies
    Does this make sense?
    Now look at the virus itself
    First was said if you had a fever stay home
    Then it was fever cough or aches
    So now it’s no sense of taste…. so on so on
    What I’m trying to say is we see the death toll we hear how bad things are when know the places to get checked are real if this is so real why do people not wanna stay home? Knowing they can’t be evicted they will be safe and they are getting paid?
    Now I got my views…. I believe it they would’ve told us the truth in the beginning things would have been a little better but instead we had hella induced fear hella dark news just a whole lotta bad that’s making people think “oh this is fake” or “this is then doing marshal law” or “this virus is cross genes are coronavirus and aids which makes it a biological weapon” yeah those are all things you read in soooooo many news articles all showing mixed reviews?!?! You ever sat back and looked at a movie and thought you know how do they think of this like if you were watching a futuristic type movie and think how could they think of that? Then you some how puzzle yourself to think could that be real?!?! Then you start to look it up yeah that’s curiosity.
    I’ve heard and see billions of Theories and I believe what I believe and that’s that there’s a virus out here that is so phenomenal that it is making people go into psychological panic and manic type terror and has induced the world into the biggest fear known to man…. So to be honest I think protesting the stay at home orders is real not a smart idea.

    My Names Caylen Green and I’m a citizen of riverside county and live in Moreno Valley

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