As far as California is concerned, the pockets of virus skeptics, Trump supporters, and libertarians who put personal freedoms ahead of the public good are mostly outside the Bay Area. At least that's what was suggested Friday when a series of simultaneous afternoon protests were organized against Governor Newsom's stay-at-home orders in six California cities, and only three — in Sacramento, Los Angeles, and in Huntington Beach, in Orange County — drew significant crowds.
As KPIX reports, the crowd outside San Francisco's City Hall on Friday only numbered about 75 to 100, and plans to create "gridlock" around Civic Center never really materialized. And that group converged with a separate May Day protest calling for rent forgiveness.
New polling data out of UC Berkeley released Friday suggests that 70 percent of Californians are still comfortable with stay-at-home orders, believing the public-health wisdom that if we suddenly go back to having no restrictions, the virus will surge again in the state. But 30 percent of Californians are siding with the pockets of the nation that are fed up with the lockdowns, and think that the economic harm that has occurred is worse than the sickness and death the virus might wreak.
That poll shows a bit more of the state beginning to chafe under stay-at-home orders — a previous poll conducted around the same time in April found only about 1 in 10 Californians calling for a lifting of restrictions.
UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS) conducted the latest online poll of 8,000 California residents, and it found — predictably, given what we've seen with the flag-wavers at these protests of stay-at-home orders around the country — that Trump supporters, by and large, were more likely to doubt the coronavirus threat.
"It is striking the way that polarized political attitudes even affect everyday behaviors," says IGS co-Director Cristina Mora. "That Trump supporters are much less likely to believe in the efficacy of practices such as social distancing, and are generally much less worried about contracting COVID-19, denotes just how powerfully politics can shape understanding of health and safety."
Well, that and the fact that intellectual prowess and Trump support tend to be inversely proportional.
The libertarians and Republicans who descended on Sacramento on Friday looked very much in the pro-Trump camp. And trying to emulate their brethren in Michigan who — some of them heavily armed — stormed the state capital in Lansing yesterday, hundreds crowded onto the steps of the Capitol Building in Sacramento, defying calls to disperse from California Highway Patrol officers.
As the Chronicle reports, the CHP arrested 32 people who refused to get off the capitol steps as the crowd began to thin around 2 p.m.
Here's some footage of some angry, unmasked men chanting "Whose house? Our house!" on the capitol steps:
CHP line is now taking steps forward to move the crowd off the Capitol steps. Earlier they told protestors to move back to the sidewalk, off the Capitol property. pic.twitter.com/WLX1KK1u0H— Alexei Koseff (@akoseff) May 1, 2020
It was predictable that California wouldn't be totally immune to these sorts of protests, and certainly the lockdowns are taking an emotional and physical toll on many people.
And, as we were reminded this week, San Francisco was the site of similar protests back during the 1918 flu pandemic, when citizens grew tired of mandatory mask-wearing orders after a couple of months.
The more things change, the more they stay the same — especially with human nature.
But does everybody need to know someone who dies from this virus to take the shelter orders seriously?
Photo: Mrs. Jones/Twitter