Dozens rally at City Hall to 'Open Fresno'

Among the people protesting were Fresno County supervisors Steve Brandau and Nathan Magsig.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The day after Fresno's mayor announced plans to reopen hundreds of businesses in the city, a group of people went to City Hall to demand a complete reopening.

Crazy Bernie, who the city has fined twice for operating his furniture store in violation of an emergency 'shelter in place' order, led several business owners in their protest against those orders.

RELATED: 'Crazy Bernie' fined $6,000 for violating Fresno's COVID-19 order

But he says he ripped up his original speech after Mayor Brand announced a loosening of the order Tuesday.

"Last night, on the eve of this great gathering of Americans, he pleasantly surprised us all and took the first step towards giving us back our freedoms," he said.

RELATED: Fresno Mayor says auto dealerships, furniture stores and others can open on May 11

Furniture stores can reopen Monday.

But several businesses considered higher risk because of contact - like hair salons, tattoo parlors, and fitness studios - are not cleared to reopen.

One of them announced they'll open the doors on Monday, regardless.

"We will take safety precautions, keeping everything clean. We'll have policies in place," said fitness instructor Paul Watson.

And several people drove past to register their discomfort with the protest and the idea of a rushed reopening at a time when Fresno County's number of new coronavirus cases is still higher every week.

"It was kind of comical to me because there were so many people out there without masks and not following CDC guidelines," said one of them, Dez Martinez.

Among the people out there were Fresno County supervisors Steve Brandau and Nathan Magsig, who shook hands with organizers and spoke to the gathering of more than 50 people, a breach of guidelines from the CDC and the county medical officer.

Fresno City Councilmember Garry Bredefeld repeated his complaints that 'shelter in place' orders violate the Constitution.

"It doesn't take second place to anything. Not a virus. Not public safety. And not politicians drunk with power," said Bredefeld.

Lawsuits determining whether various 'stay at home' orders are constitutional are working through courts all over the country, but judges have ruled so far they are constitutional as long as there's a public health emergency.

Police say they expected about 160 people at Wednesday's rally.

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