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Undeterred by the slew of criminal misdemeanor charges she already faces for promoting an anti-lockdown protest last weekend, one rebellious San Diego woman is planning to hold her own protest this weekend.
Best of all, Naomi Soria, 27, enjoys the support of one of her potential future political leaders, Republican congressional candidate Erin Cruz.
Naomi is holding Peaceful Protest, in San Diego. Per @GrahamLedger San Diego PD are prepping a warrant for her arrest.
— ERIN CRUZ FOR CALIFORNIA (CA-36) (@RealErinCruz) April 23, 2020
Soria first appeared in the public spotlight Wednesday when the nationally renowned Center for American Liberty announced her as its latest client.
“Today, the San Diego Police Department informed a 27-year-old woman that she is being charged with a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days and/or a $1,000 fine, for her participation in a peaceful protest on Saturday, April 18, 2020 in San Diego,” the center announced in a press briefing.
“The Center for American Liberty, in coordination with the Dhillon Law Group, are providing her with legal representation.”
According to the center, out of the 400 or so people who attended the April 18th protest, Soria is the only participant to have been hit with charges.
“The charged protester had shared information about the protest on social media, which may have led to the authorities deciding to single her out for punishment,” the center noted.
OUTRAGEOUS—”San Diego to Fine 27-year-old woman $1,000 for Peaceful Protest”https://t.co/kd1I6z7VC1
— Center for American Liberty (@Liberty_Ctr) April 22, 2020
Not charged was the event’s actual organizer, Roger Ogden of Bankers Hill. In statements to local station KUSI delivered prior to the protest last Saturday, he explained the purpose behind it.
“[W]e do not believe that the COVID-19 bug represents such an immediate danger to others that constitutional rights should be curtailed,” he said. “Fewer have died this year due to COVID-19, 70 people in San Diego, than died in this year’s flu season, 105 persons.”
Emerging data does indeed suggest the real coronavirus death rate is as low as, if not lower than, the death rate for the flu.
“[I]t seems highly unlikely that our small gathering to express our free speech will cause direct harm to anyone, any more than it might due to the flu,” he added.
“They panicked and got into this [shelter-in-place policy], and now they don’t want to admit they made a mistake. My constitutional rights overrule these restrictions.”
See scenes from the protest below:
Residents hold ‘Freedom Rally’ in protest of shutdown orders near Balboa Park @huntersowards3 will talk more about it on tonight’s KUSI News at 6, 10, and 11 PM.
— KUSI News (@KUSINews) April 19, 2020
Downtown San Diego as hundreds of “patriots” gather at the Hall of Justice to protest the Shelter-at-Home orders.
The sound of honks, USA chants and “Sweet Home Alabama” can be heard blaring through the block. Police not enforcing any orders regarding the large-scale gathering. pic.twitter.com/fQZ2aAUpk4
— The Travelers Club (@TravelersClubSD) April 18, 2020
Protest in downtown San Diego. Massive drive-by and about a hundred+ folks on the street and around the corner. pic.twitter.com/qqUKVuDhgQ
— Justin Hart (@justin_hart) April 18, 2020
That the authorities are now attempting to punish a participant for practicing her right to peacefully protest has not sat well with the Center for American Liberty CEO Harmeet K. Dhillon.
“The First Amendment guarantees the right to peacefully protest,” she said in a statement. “Our client participated in a responsible protest adhering to social distancing guidelines. She, along with other protestors, stood six feet apart on a public sidewalk.”
“It is outrageous that our 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 limit.”
Dhillon Law Group attorney Mark Meuser confirmed with the Times of San Diego on Wednesday that he’s “heard the police … say that they are recommending that the city attorney issue a warrant for [Soria’s] arrest.”
The San Diego Police Department likewise confirmed to the paper that it’s contacted the City Attorney’s Office “requesting their review to issue charges against the protest organizer for violating the county health order by organizing a gathering.”
It’s not clear though whether the department was referring to Ogden, who was reportedly the organizer of last week’s protest, or Soria, who’s reportedly the organizer of the upcoming protest this Sunday.
Included among these veritable “Red Guards” haven’t just been law enforcement officers but members of the public at large who’ve reportedly been inundating her social media profiles with death threats.
Meanwhile, San Diego’s “black leaders” pestered local police for not arresting any of last weekend’s protesters, claiming the lack of arrests were due to racism, of course.
Today at 4:15 PM PT I’ll make a statement live from Peoples Alliance for Justice’s Facebook page on the potential arrests and fines the protest organizers who led this weekend’s protests in #sandiego could face. We called for them to be cited and we have heard that they will be.
— Shane Harris (@shaneharrisnow) April 22, 2020
“Did San Diego police give preferential treatment to Saturday’s predominantly white ‘freedom rally’ to reopen California?” the Times reported.
“That debate ignited Monday when the Rev. Shane Harris called on Police Chief David Nisleit to cite organizers of the downtown protest against stay-at-home orders and the local NAACP president posted a blistering essay ending with ‘For shame, Chief Nisleit.'”
“If black folks were [demonstrating] in downtown San Diego, don’t you think the police presence would be different?” Harris reportedly said, presumably in reference to Black Lives Matter protests. “What we saw was racial entitlement at its finest.”
It’s not clear why he sees an equivalence between law-abiding citizens protesting on behalf of their constitutional rights, and Black Lives Matter activists committing vandalism and acts of violence as they protest on behalf of criminals.
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