Casa Del Prado Theatre
The Casa Del Prado Theatre in Balboa Park. Courtesy City of San Diego

A group of local residents plans to protest the city and state shutdown orders near Balboa Park Saturday.

“This event is intended to be nonpartisan, just a group of park lovers, who want to able to use Balboa Park again for relaxation, walking and other exercise,” said Roger Ogden of Bankers Hill.

The protest is scheduled for 1 p.m. at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Laurel Street.

A local or state government can set aside constitutional rights, Ogden said, if there is a compelling reason to do so, such as imminent danger to others.

“However, we do not believe that the COVID-19 bug represents such an immediate danger to others that constitutional rights should be curtailed,” Ogden 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.”

Ogden said he talked to some San Diego Police Department officers recently at Balboa Park, and it “sounds like the police may want to cite us if we’re not careful.”

The event organizer said he told neighbors about his plans for the protest and many said they were supportive. He said he’s not sure how many residents will show up, though.

“So, it 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,” Ogden said.

“They panicked and got into this,” Ogden said, referring to state and local officials issuing stay-at-home restrictions, “and now they don’t want to admit they made a mistake. My constitutional rights overrule these restrictions.”

SDPD officials could not immediately be reached for comment on the protest plans.

On Friday, the San Diego Council’s President Pro Tem, Barbara Bry, called for city and county officials and the scientific community to develop a plan to re-open parks and beaches as soon as the first week of May.

Bry, who is in a run-off election for mayor with state Assemblyman Todd Gloria on Nov. 3, said any plan to reopen parks and beaches should include social distancing and face covering requirements.

“Our parks and beaches play an important role in San Diego life, particularly for our residents who live in dense neighborhoods,” Bry said.

–City News Service

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