Reopening California: Huge crowd gathers in Sacramento, SF, SoCal to demand Gov. Newsom lift COVID-19 restriction

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Protesters frustrated with ongoing shelter-in-place restrictions in California due to the novel coronavirus pandemic are gathering in at least 11 cities around the state to give Gov. Gavin Newsom a piece of their mind.

RELATED: Gov. Gavin Newsom says California may be 'days, not weeks' from further reopening

Starting at noon Friday, thousands of people gathered outside the State Capitol in Sacramento. Many of them could be seen standing closely together, not wearing masks or face coverings. They cheered and waved American flags as speakers chanted through megaphones.

Another such protest was planned at San Francisco City Hall. The group was planning to create a "gridlock loop" of cars on the streets surrounding City Hall and to have a walking protest out front.

Despite their urges to reopen California as quickly as possible, organizers seem to at least acknowledge there's a health risk (not to mention a violation of the law) in gathering a bunch of people together in close proximity. The group's website instructs protesters to stand at least six feet apart from each other, per CDC guidelines.

RELATED: San Francisco attorney files several lawsuits against Gov. Newsom's shelter-in-place order

The group also urged attendees to create poster board signs with a "variety of verbiage." (Suggestions include "FREEDOM WE THE PEOPLE," "OPEN OUR CHURCHES," "The shutdown is killing us" and "Practice Media Distancing.") Not sure what to chant? They have suggestions for that, too: "Open our state now" and "Back to school."

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Gov. Newsom has repeatedly said he's feeling the pressure to reopen the state more quickly, but is leaning on scientific data to decide on timing. "Politics will not drive our decision making. Protests will not drive our decision making. Political pressure will not drive our decision making," the governor said.



Red, white and blue attire is preferred, but not required.

Protesters were also planning to gather in San Diego and Los Angeles, all at the same time as Gov. Newsom's daily noon briefing on novel coronavirus.

"The rights of people are being suspended and the constitution trampled on and that's the biggest problem we have at this time," says Vivienne Reign who is a business owner helping to organize the Sacramento rally Friday.

RELATED: U.S. essential workers hold May Day strike, demand time off, hazard pay

While some of the local "Reopen California" Facebook groups have thousands of members, opposition to the rallies is also high on social media. Christopher Martin writes, "Too early, too soon. STAY HOME."

"There's always going to be those that are a little selfish and think about themselves first," says San Francisco resident Eric Westcott.

RELATED: Humboldt sheriff says governor's beach closure would violate constitutional rights

"All of us at some point in the day end up going out a little bit selfish to overdo that because not only are you at risk you are putting others at risk," says Neeharika Vinod.

Gov. Newsom has repeatedly said he's feeling the pressure to reopen the state more quickly, but is leaning on scientific data to decide on timing.

"Politics will not drive our decision making. Protests will not drive our decision making. Political pressure will not drive our decision making," said Gov. Newsom. "The science, data and public health will drive our decision making."

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