Atwater City Council voted on a resolution during a special meeting Friday afternoon declaring itself a sanctuary city, but not for immigration.
The mid-sized town in Merced County is now a sanctuary city in terms of reopening its local businesses, non-profits, and churches in defiance to the state’s shelter-in-place order. Local officials and residents attending the meeting said they felt the state’s order had stripped their Constitutional rights.
“This is America. You have the choice. It’s time for the government to stop dictating another month, another three months, six months, When is it going to end? When everyone is bankrupt?” said Atwater Mayor Paul Creighton.
City police, code enforcement, and Merced County’s Sheriff’s Department said that they will not interfere with businesses that reopen in defiance of state law.
According to the Merced Sun-Star, “Atwater residents gave City Council a standing ovation and cheers Friday when they unanimously passed a resolution to make Atwater a sanctuary city for all businesses to open amid the coronavirus pandemic.”
On May 10 Coalinga made a similar move, declaring all businesses essential and opening up the entire city including salons, gyms and their one movie theater.
At a special Kings County Supervisors’ meeting on Friday, Supervisor Richard Valle suggested their county also declare all businesses essential. CAO Rebecca Campbell informed Valle that the state no longer uses that term and now classifies businesses according to their risk of spreading the infections.
Kings County on Friday voted to craft a proclamation that allows businesses to open without exposing itself to the same litigation that might happen in Atwater and Coalinga.