Story and photos by Henri Migala
Photo, left: Maskless rally participants called for all businesses to open now, despite pandemic shutdown orders from the county and state.
December 23, 2020 (El Cajon) – A rally titled “All I Want for Christmas is Freedom” was held on Monday, Dec. 21 at El Cajon Centennial Plaza calling for a lifting of pandemic shutdowns. The timing of the rally coincides with hospital ICU units filled to capacity across Southern California, after 18 million people in the U.S. have contracted COVID-19 and 323,000 Americans have died.
There are legitimate equity questions, such as why big-box retailers have been allowed to stay open while many small businesses have been ordered shut down, particularly after data obtained from San Diego County reveals that many outbreaks have been tied to large stores such as Walmart, Home Depot and Target. Although the event was promoted as an opportunity to support local small businesses adversely affected by restrictions imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus, any rational discussion of those issues was largely overshadowed at the protest by speakers, including prominent elected officials, who urged attendees to openly and actively defy local and state restrictions. Some used such inflammatory words such as devil, battle, war, evil, Marxist, tyranny, socialism, 2nd Amendment, and even a reference to “killing babies like Planned Parenthood" that seemed largely out of context to a discussion of economic vs. public health concerns.
Eighteen “vendors” were set up, of which about half were small businesses selling products. The others were related to a political cause or agenda, such as recalling Governor Newsom, or opening San Diego. Approximately 150 people attended the event.