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San Diego Coronavirus Lockdown Protest Organizer Could Face Added Charges

People in Pacific Beach on April 26, 2020, protesting the shelter-in-place or...

Photo by Matt Hoffman

Above: People in Pacific Beach on April 26, 2020, protesting the shelter-in-place order designed to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

San Diego police have submitted a second case against an alleged organizer of two recent protests opposing state and county stay-at-home orders issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last week, the San Diego Police Department contacted the City Attorney's Office requesting its review for possible charges against 27-year- old Naomi Soria, who also goes by Naomi Israel, for her role in organizing an April 18 "Freedom Rally" in downtown San Diego.

On Monday, police submitted a second case against Soria in connection with Sunday's "Day of Liberty San Diego Freedom Rally" in Pacific Beach, which brought hundreds to the boardwalk, many of whom waved American flags and signs such as "COVID is a LIE" and "PB IS OPEN."

A police department spokesman said the cases were submitted "against the protest organizer for violating the county health order by organizing a gathering." The City Attorney's Office did not immediately return requests for comment regarding charges in either case.

Soria's attorneys with the nonprofit Center for American Liberty said their client was informed by police that she faces misdemeanor charges that could result in up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

The Center for American Liberty argued their client "is being charged with a crime for participating in constitutionally protected activity. The right to assemble and to petition the government does not exist if there are topics that are off limits."

Center for American Liberty CEO Harmeet Dhillon called the possible charges "outrageous" and disputed the accusation that protesters did not practice social distancing, saying Soria and others took part "in a responsible protest adhering to social distancing guidelines. She, along with other protesters, stood six feet apart on a public sidewalk."

"We intend to fight San Diego's punishment of our client if the authorities decide to proceed with this ill-advised attempt to chill the speech of Americans," Dhillon said.

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