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Marchers Protest Beach, Park Closures In Encinitas

An Encinitas city sign is shown in this photo, July 2017.
Alison St John
An Encinitas city sign is shown in this photo, July 2017.

UPDATE: 5:13 p.m., April 19, 2020

Sunday in Encinitas, a group of about 200 people marched along South Coast Highway 101 to protest the closure of beaches, parks and trails in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sunday in Encinitas, a group of about 200 people marched along South Coast Highway 101 to protest the closure of beaches, parks and trails in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The protest march, promoted by Free Encinitas, a public Facebook group, began at 10 a.m. in front of Swamis Seaside Park and headed south until about noon, when the protest disbanded, according to San Diego County Sheriff's Department officials.

Deputies kept watch to make sure marchers were practicing safe distancing measures, and no citations were issued, officials said.

The group carried U.S. flags and signs of protest against state and local stay-at-home orders. Some of the signs read "Surfing is not a crime" and "This is punishment not protection."

The group stopped at Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear's house, with some carrying signs that said "Recall Blakespear."

San Diegans also took to the streets downtown Saturday to protest stay-at-home orders.

In Balboa Park, a small group of local residents gathered at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Laurel Street to protest against the city and state shutdown orders.

Organized by Bankers Hill resident Roger Ogden, the event was said to be held to stand up for constitutional rights.

"We do not believe that the COVID-19 bug represents such an immediate danger to others that constitutional rights should be curtailed," Ogden said.

At the Hall of Justice downtown, a much larger crowd attended a "Freedom Rally" with hundreds of participants carrying U.S. flags and homemade signs with such statements as "Open Up California" and "Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death."

San Diego police officers kept a watchful eye on the protesters, but officials said they would not issue any citations.

"We have decided not to enforce the law at this time," police said Saturday. "We welcome people to voice their frustrations and concerns in a peaceful way. We hope after they've done so, they'll disperse."