Updated: April 24, 2020 05:27 PM
Created: April 24, 2020 12:49 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A group of protesters held a demonstration Friday morning at Civic Plaza in Albuquerque, demanding Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham reopen the state and get New Mexicans back to work.
The rally was organized in response to the governor's stay-at-home order which has been extended to May 15.
"There's a lot of folks out here that are hurting because of the shutdown," said Kai Sandoval, who organized the Freedom Rally. "Thank god I'm still one of the lucky few to be able to work but that can't be said for a vast number of people out here. And I know firsthand there's people that are now people on the streets, living on the streets, because their job has been deemed non-essential."
Sandoval said he understands the public health issue — but also feels small businesses deemed non-essential under the governor's public health orders should be allowed to reopen.
"We can do this in a safe manner," he said. "We can open up small businesses, and all businesses in the state, to operate just like the big box stores, with proper safety practices, proper social distancing."
The rally's Facebook event was organized by Brett Kokinadis for Congress and NM Freedom Rally - Operation Gridlock NM. Organizers say they also had a rally outside the governor's mansion in Santa Fe.
A spokesperson for Gov. Lujan Grisham shared the following statement:
"Mass gatherings are dangerous and in violation of the public health order. We want any New Mexican who is upset about the state's efforts to limit illness and prevent mass death to find safe and non-dangerous ways to exercise their first amendment right to protest, one of many rights we are all grateful to have, none of which are infringed upon by the necessary actions the state has taken to slow the spread of COVID-19 and save the lives of New Mexicans. New Mexicans must continue to stay home in order to slow the spread of this incredibly contagious virus – there is no way to safely reopen the state without first doing so."
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