California Gov. Gavin Newsom might have a hard time rounding up his posse.
The liberal governor announced Thursday that he would close all beaches in Southern California’s Orange County after voicing displeasure with thousands in Newport Beach for heading to the shore last weekend during a heatwave. Newsom said it is his job to keep people safe.
“And when our health folks tell me they can’t promise that if we promote another weekend like what we had, then I have to make this adjustment. I hope it’s only a very short-term adjustment,” he said.
Shortly after the announcement, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes released a statement that called Newsom’s order to “single out” his county “wrong.” He said that even though some pictures showed a large crowd, the beachgoers last weekend “acted responsibly” and his officers were able “to address instances of unsafe activity,” Turn to 23 reported.
Barnes said his intention is “to not take enforcement action on” Newsom’s order. He said that his department would focus on education and voluntary compliance, but he expressed no interest in making arrests.
The Los Angeles Times reported that leaders from Huntington Beach and Dana Point approved the filing of an emergency injunction to block Newsom’s order. The paper reported the Huntington Beach mayor, Lyn Semeta, said the city worked hard to ensure its residents’ safety and even pointed out that the area has one of the lowest “per capita COVID-19 death rates in California.”
“The state’s action today seems to prioritize politics over data,” he said.
The Times reported that police in Huntington Beach wrote in a statement that they were hoping for voluntary compliance but did not go further.
Barnes is not the only sheriff to express concern about Newsom’s order. When it was reported Thursday that the governor was going to enact a statewide beach closure, Humbolt County Sheriff William Honsal said, “As Sheriff, I am the protector of constitutional rights in Humbolt County, and if an order is issued that I believe violates our constitutional rights, I will not enforce it.”
He pointed out that his county is in Northern California and should not pay for the sins of those in Southern California.
Barnes’ reaction to Newsom comes at a time many residents in the state are beginning to lash out at what they feel are oppressive lockdown orders.
Harmeet Dhillon, the Republican Party official, told “The Todd Starnes Show” on Thursday that the state needs some civil disobedience.
“I mean, if everybody who lived near a beach did that, or if everybody who lived near a park did that, there would be too many people for the government to arrest. Maybe there would be a signal to the government that we need some solutions here that are tailored. There could be limitations; there could be prudent distance requirements, I would even say mask requirements—although many fellow citizens disagree with those.”