Visalia Protesters Declare “Its Time to Open Up!”

“Defend your rights. Defend your freedoms. Every job is essential. Open this town!” These were some of the phrases chanted through a megaphone to passing cars at the corner of Caldwell and Mooney Boulevard In Visalia.

The protest took place on Friday, May 1st around noon. Nearly 300 people lined the sidewalk holding up Trump banners, American flags, Gadsden flags and homemade picket signs that read phrases like, “RE-OPEN VISALIA,” and “FREEDOM IS ESSENTIAL.” A constant river of cars honked in cacophonous support as they passed the demonstrators.

A handful of protesters wore masks and practiced social distancing. But those were the exceptions. Most protesters stood less than six feet apart and wore no face coverings as they called for the economy to re-open.

Organizer Ellen Woitalla called the event “MAGA MAYDAY” and stated she was part of larger “patriot groups” like the Visalian Republican Women Federated and the Tulare County Republican Assembly. She stressed, however, that the demonstration was more than just a partisan display.

“We want everybody to have equal opportunity to have their business open regardless of political affiliation,” Woitalla explained. “I’m out here for all the people that I care about in my community who are suffering under weight of not being open, not being considered essential, and being fined for doing what they have to do to put food on the table.”

People like Jessica Farmers, who owns a spa in the area, went to the protest to advocate for small business owners. Farmers stated she is worried about her family because she has been out of business going on nine weeks now.

“It’s a long time,” Farmers said. “And unemployment for self-employed people didn’t open up until April 28th…I feel like self-employed people have really suffered the most because there hasn’t been any relief. We got a little paycheck–the stimulus. But that runs out when you have a family of five to support.”

Jeffrey Winey was another protester at the event and owns a chain of furniture stores in the Valley. He has been forced to shut down his business and lay off 40 employees.

“It’s really devastating to them and their families,” Winey said. “We feel it’s time to open up. We’ve done our part. Citizens have lowered the curve, taken proper precautions. There’s no reason why our business can’t open if a place like Costco stays open or Lowe’s, because we never have that kind of number of people in our stores.”

Regardless of the economic reasoning, it was difficult to ignore the political messages displayed and expressed by the protesters. Many people wore Trump shirts, MAGA hats and flashed anti-Newsom signs.

State and Local Leadership Encourage Safety

The demonstration was only one of many throughout the state. According to the Fresno Bee, hundreds more gathered at the state capitol around the same time, an event that briefly turned violent with 32 protesters being detained.

Governor Gavin Newsom seems to be feeling the pressure from demonstrators and is planning to reopen businesses sooner than later. However, because protesters did not abide by safety measures laid out by the state to practice social distancing, permits for future events near state facilities may not be allowed.

CHP stated: “effective immediately the California Highway Patrol will deny any permit request for events or activities at all state facilities, to include the State Capitol, until public health officials have determined it is safe to gather again.”

Newsom also expressed his support of “participatory democracy” and “free speech,” but encouraged demonstrators to do it safely.

These events arrived only days after local leadership discussed progress being made in Tulare County, with the doubling rate of COVID-19 cases dropping from every 15 days to only every two-five days. Establishment of test collection sites has also made significant progress, according to Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) staff.

Director of Tulare County HHSA, Timothy Lutz, cited a Kaweah Delta model that showed the epidemic peaked in Tulare County last week. However, Lutz emphasized that was only one model and they can vary from place to place.

Lutz also mentioned that there has been an upward trend in “contact cases” involving “clusters with families.” In other words, more people have been contracting the virus likely through weekend family gatherings.

As it stands, there are 680 COVID-19 confirmed cases in Tulare County. No new deaths have been reported. But protests that don’t practice proper social distancing may qualify as clusters that could threaten progress made in Tulare County.

Visalia District Supervisor Amy Shuklian encouraged community members to remain mindful and stay safe as state mandates are loosened and local businesses begin to re-open.

50 thoughts on “Visalia Protesters Declare “Its Time to Open Up!”

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    • I understand these business owners frustrations but why are they carrying Nazi signs and nooses around theirs necks with trump signs using words like tyranny and Liberate. They are acting like terrorist and unAmericans, I hope these radical protestors don’t catch the virus. They are a bunch of Rascist

      • If you’re suggesting that protesting government is “un-American” you probably missed class the day they talked about the American revolution.

  1. bunch of dumb-assed self serving idiots, just like their orange god…take off those masks and don’t do your social distancing and put that walk into your talk. Just can’t believe the stupidity, won’t listen to the scientists but will to a con man that “listens to his gut”. #BIDEN2020!

    • You really have been mentally effected by the liberal hate disease that is more deadly than corona will ever be! The common flu has killed more people!

    • Oh lord help you!!!! You’ve been brainwashed by them for sure like the rest of the liberals who voted for the Joker who is the governor!!!

  2. Lack of following the guidelines set forth by authorities shows selfish negligence, only caring about themselves. It’s sad that they are so disrespectful of the freedoms their grandfathers fought and some died, to pass down to us.

    • I understand these business owners frustrations but why are they carrying Nazi signs and nooses around theirs necks with trump signs using words like tyranning and Liberate. They are acting like terrorist and unAmericans, I hope these radical protestors don’t catch the virus. They are a bunch of Rascist
      white hypocrites and can all go to hell.

  3. I am a Trump supporter but these people not following the social distancing guidelines and not wearing masks is bad. I am an essential worker and work 5 days a week and people on unemployment make more money than I do right now.

  4. They’re as ignorant as the president they supprot, the Lysol injecting Trump

    • Not half as ignorant as the Trump haters who would believe anything..people like you are the reason this earth needs a good cleansing!

    • You are dumb for believing the cnn media 🤣 laughing at all you liberal lovers

  5. These people are going to start the spread of coronavirus all over again, this virus will never end because people like them and the president they follow.

  6. Though I wish to open as well. I feel we haven’t peaked. As of this writing we 720. At this rate we will hit 1000 by the end of the week. As a small community that worries me. We have not met testing requirements. From what see social distance procedure is not fully followed. A rush to open is far to dangerous without proper slowed strict safety precautions.

  7. What I see selfishness. I support a reasonable slowed opening beginning mid May starting with food service, doctors clinics, parks beaches, and son car washes and gyms. Then 2wks following it we steadily decline or slow on June 1 begin other retail store at a 25 percent ratio. But too much to fast is dangerous. We will grow in infections. I believe schools need to wait to August. I’m not risking my child’s health.

  8. Seeing people standing on the sides of streets with signs weapons in hand. Preaching and yelling like this is some kind Democrat Vs. Republican situation is ridiculous. Out of protest.that I have seen and every question posed about reopening. They say small businesses small businesses. What about those of us who work in the non essential business. Is worth getting our hopes of working again back up. When we know there will be any consumers going on spending money. It doesn’t give my paycheck. If I have to choose putting my kids health on the line vs working part hours at less money. But Congress needs to get their last behind back to work and come up with a real answer if how to get us back out of this recession they started. These small businesses it’s great they want to open and save to themselves but that doesn’t help the rest of us who live paycheck to paycheck who long after we are opened back remain furloughed or unemployed because businesses in a hurry to open can’t pay employees. Unemployment is not forever nor do I want to stay on it. But at least for the moment my kids are safe, I can keep a to roof over to their head and pay a some bills.

  9. In Visalia I haven’t seen people shelter in place or social distancing. This a perfect example of stupid ill informed selfish idiots. With Trump egging them doesn’t help. I personally had the virus. I nearly died. Those who say it only happens to unhealthy people again ill informed idiots. These people do not care about anything but money being selfish preaching for rights. What about my right to be safe to be free to do what I want. Today’s generation knows not one thing of real suffering that our grandparents lived through in the early. Ok so your pissed cause you had to stay home for a few months boo hoo. Our grandparents suffered for years and got through it. For 26 day I woke up in pain back legs arms. Had throw up constantly after forcing myself to eat. Headaches that wouldn’t go away. Burning and bloating chest pain, feeling like I’m breathing through a straw. Fevers of 104 constantly. Being told by the hospital your not severe enough for admittance. Watching your kids crying and scared you are going to die. I am a healthy 23 year old mother. Unless you have been through it you have no idea what you are talking about. This is worse than flu that I ever had a now my daughter has it.

  10. Buncha r*dn*cks.. why did I move here

    I swear Visalia acts like this is Alabama or something… we are in California, we do have internet, we are innovative and progressive.

    Whats with with old school mentality over here?

    Everywhere I walk its TRUMP or NUNES… jesus christ lol

    • There were protests all over this redneck state on Friday from Orange County to Sacramento. Or don’t you keep up? And in case you’ve forgotten, this state voted for Hillary in 2016 and Bernie this March. If you’re seeing Trump signs, it’s because a LOT of us are really pissed off and totally fed up. We may not be a majority, but a minority can get really loud when there’s no money to feed their kids.

    • Go back to that place your from and rejoin your unborn baby killing clan!

    • Have you been to Alabama? It’s a beautiful state full of wonderful people. Just like California gets grief because of the weirdos, so does Alabama. Roll Tide!

  11. It’s about time to open up this country. We can’t cower in fear every time flu season comes around. This virus is looking more and more like any other virus. Deaths are less than the flu if you look at the figures and quit listening to the media breathlessly report each new case. Each death is tragic but isolation kills too.

  12. These people need to go back and take a Biology class.. Maybe they wouldn’t shoot up so much Lysol and hoard toilet paper.. Hmm maybe not.

    • Bachelors in Biology, summa cum laude. This virus is dangerous to a few, but the numbers keep going down and it’s turning out to be no worse than a bad flu, similar to the flu of 2017/18. Perhaps you need to read a bit more widely before you criticize with such inanity.

        • Okay I did some reading… this is NOT like the 2017-18 flu and saying that is not very responsible.

          $34K people died in the US from the virus of 2017/18, There was a flu shot available, which is why it did not kill more people.

          This virus is still killing 2,000 Americans per day, and in only a couple of months we are at nearly 68K deaths with NO VACCINE in site. Even if you get it and survive it, scientists and doctors still don’t know if that makes you immune to reinfection.

          Stop comparing this virus to other flu seasons. No medical professionals are support your statements.

    • These are some sick delusional folks, we are in a pandemic nurses and doctors are fighting to save people’s life’s at kaweah Delta and they are acting irresponsible by not practicing social distancing and possibly spreading the virus to each other. History will repeat itself and the second wave of convid 19 will be more deadlier, you bunch ofstupid ass people if trump tells you to drink his juice and die for him or inject bleach you would STUPID!!!

  13. There’s so many don’t respect distance, no respect for others out in the stores how they going to be in restaurants???

  14. I wonder how many of you people who are angry at the protesters still have income. If you do, you have little right to judge people who are on the verge of losing everything and who are scared out of their wits and angry to boot. If you have a paycheck, I challenge you to give it ALL away until the State opens up again. If you won’t do that, then maybe you just oughta sit down and be quiet.

  15. Bunch of Stupid people who have No clue Always be safe be careful what you wish for

  16. To those who think Coronavirus is someday going away, Wrong! It’s never going away, it’ll be around just like influenza which by the way kills on an average of about 30 thousand American’s a year just in the US. Stop your denial and just take whatever necessary precautions you must to protect yourself and your family, f**k everyone else! There will always be defiant people, sorry🤷‍♀️

  17. I bet not one of these people have lost a loved one to this very contagious and potentially deadly virus. They have not witnessed what it is like to care for someone who needs a ventilator. I wonder if they realize that once your loved one is put on a ventilator, statistically there is only a 12% chance of getting off one alive.

    I hope that the loss of a loved one does not have land at their doorstep before they realize that wearing a mask and keeping a safe distance is signalling to others that they care and respect you. Not doing these simple things communicates that they don’t care if others live or die a horrible death without the comfort of family around them.

    Somehow people are confusing these acts of selfishness with rugged individualism. They are attaching patriotism to protests, when in fact they are risking their neighbors’ lives.

    This virus DOES NOT CARE what nationality, religion or political party people cling to. We are not immune. If we catch it, we will likely infect several others before we know we have it. These realities should guide our behavior; it should be uniting us, not dividing us further.

  18. Selfish selfish selfish. It’s not until they themselves catch the virus or their families, thats when they’ll be crying for more precautions. Better safe than sorry. Besides the rules are there for OUR protection not because the government is trying to be a jerk. Nuffsaid✋

    • It’s not until they themselves catch the virus or their families, thats when they’ll be crying for more precautions.

      The ONLY way we could cry for more precautions after the coronavirus is if we survive; so you’re admitting we can all survive this 😀 yeah #OpenCalifornia

  19. The majority of the people protesting are WHITE! They have never faced true oppression in their white privileged lives and for them to scream and shout that they are being oppressed for the last 7 weeks is offensive in itself.

    • Go back to that place your from and rejoin your unborn baby killing clan!

      • I’m sorry folks because I know this is a serious conversation but Foster Steele aka Wrong Way Charlie makes one to laugh… many times is he gonna keep posting the same ridiculous lamebrain one liner that clearly shows his limited hate-filled damaged little brain. I’ll bet even the Coronavirus rejects infecting him because he just isn’t worth the effort because he is already too far gone (mentally).

  20. “But protests that don’t practice proper social distancing may qualify as clusters that could threaten progress made in Tulare County.”

    Really? So much for actual fact reporting when you tack fear-mongering at the end.

  21. Soo sad people only care about money and not our loved ones. Think about all the vulnerable people-elderly, disabled, healthcare workers… My families health is more important than money, it is very upsetting us humans do not think like this as well. Too many selfish, ignorant ones out there with no concern or love for the human race. Seek God and he will provide…
    My son was close to death because of this virus and we are still fighting it everyday!!!! Have some Love in your hearts! When death comes knocking at your door money no longer matters nor will you be able to take it to the grave with you!

  22. California Highway Patrol will deny any permit request for events or activities at all state facilities, to include the State Capitol, until public health officials have determined it is safe to gather again.”

    That means don’t protest around the governor because it hurts his feeling and he doesn’t like it.

  23. My deepest cognitive thinking skills is a few bales shy of a load, HOWEVER , let me try and remind all ; Nancy Regan started artificial sugar’s saying ” cane sugar ( Hawaii ) is cause of over weight children , diabetes , ect. Now ? Crack epidimic early 80’s Compton area was our faithful CIA and other Federal financed entities doing for population control , ect. Sometimes I ( we , they) really need to focus on our health and helping others when / if we can. Distances between all and masks and guidelines are help ful. Last I ask myself and anyone else who listens to their heart instead of ” stinking thinking ‘ as I do alot / 🙄 ” WHAT WOULD JESUS SAY WE NEED 2 DO AS HE IS LISTENING “. FAITH , LOVE, CARE OF YOU AND I. # 1 IS ” THIS TO WILL PASS ,. STAW FOCUSED ON LIFE AFTER THIS BAG IF BONES WITHERS AWAY “. IN A BLINK OF THEE EYE. LIFE AND DEATH HURTS ALL Know this , hold on to family , give support to all when able to , and count ( my ) yours, theirs blessings as our cup is half full , not empty. Sorry for my feeble words (. Listen to our heart of hearts. Look in the mirror and realize we cannot lie to our inner self. Heart and soul knows better. What is , is. Could b better ,. Could alot worse love urself and be patient. All who has lost loved ones or anyone / friend , a pet , possessions due 2 fire, ect. Hurts yes. Believe. Hug yourselves. Thank u all. Terry Michael.

  24. You ignorant people that are protesting!! All you think about is money!! You must all be Trump supporters!!
    If you or someone close to you gets the virus or should die from it you will be so sorry for your actions and not doing what is best for you.
    Stop blaming Governor Newsom for saving as many lives as he could!! GROW UP!! THIS NOT A GAME!!
    God forbid there is a second wave of this and we get hit like New York or even worse. All of you people listening to Trump, not practicing social distancing, because you think you’re immune or that this virus will just disappear are completely ignorant!!

  25. The death toll is over 72,000 in the U.S., and 258,000 world wide, as of 5/5/20. People who keep parroting “it’s no worse than the flu” can go sit down and be quiet now.

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