Apache Junction And Wickenburg Business Owners Protest Ducey's Stay-At-Home Orders
Business owners and individuals across the state spoke out against Gov. Doug Ducey's decision to extend the stay-at-home order to May 15 — a decision many protesters feel unduly infringes on their individual rights.
In Apache Junction, John Rodriguez organized a protest involving about 100 people, including the town's mayor, Jeff Serdy. Serdy says the protest was more of a plea for the rights of individual small business owners.
"We have two jewelry stores here in town, they're not allowed to sell jewelry, but Walmart's allowed to sell jewelry," Serdy said in an impromptu speech to the gathered crowd, which did not appear to be following physical distancing or mask guidelines. "These businesses aren't going to make a profit for a while, but let's let them pay their electric bill and pay some employees. Governor Ducey, I hope you see this."
Many polls show the majority of Americans support maintaining social distancing policies and stay-at-home orders as long as public health experts recommend doing so. Serdy thinks those numbers are inflated.
"We heard a stat that only 30% of the folks are for opening up. We think it's more like 90%," he said as the crowd cheered and applauded.
"Are we living in America or are we living in Russia?," a member of the crowd shouted. "Where is our freedom at?"
Organizer John Rodriguez said the self-identified patriot protesters felt that if their individual risk was low, they should be able to work — despite the fact they could transmit the disease to as many as three other possibly vulnerable individuals.
“How do they pay their bills, how do they get their electric bill paid? Enough is enough," he said. "The likelihood of them getting sick and dying of this virus is so minute that it just doesn’t make sense."
Across Maricopa County in Wickenburg, restaurant owner Deb Thompson has been greeting her guests with hugs and kisses. In defiance of Ducey's order prohibiting dining room service in restaurants, Thompson, who was wearing a Trump shirt, opened her restaurant Friday.
Her attorney, Anthony Ramirez, says opening up was a popular move with a lot of support from people who are openly disregarding public health advice.
"There's a row of probably about 10 motorcycles out front, probably at least 40 to 50 people out front waiting in line to get in," he said. "It's packed to capacity inside. There's a handful of people out here that I've seen with masks, but for the most part, no, I think everybody's using common sense. I don't see anything different than any other Saturday."
If Thompson is charged with a crime, Ramirez says he looks forward to fighting it on civil rights grounds.
"Not only would we be defending her criminal charge, but ... right now we're researching the viability of a civil rights lawsuit," he said. "I think it would have a very good possibility of success ... I would like to defend it, and I'm going to defend it."