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Operation Gridlock Protest Brings Around Sixty Drivers to Downtown L.A.

1:18 PM PDT on April 23, 2020

A few dozen right wing "Operation Gridlock" protestors descended on Downtown Los Angeles around 11 a.m. today, honking, waving American flags, and screaming, "Give me liberty or give me death" into the void as they circled the otherwise empty streets around city hall.

Protesters urged California to undo public health measures taken to minimize the spread of COVID-19. Protest signn slogans included "OPEN CALI NOW," "Newsom: Let Us Live," "America First," "GARCETTI KILL [Coronavirus] NOT JOBS," "LET ME RE-HIRE," and several pro-Trump sentiments.

From around noon to 1 p.m. attendance peaked at about 60 cars, carrying about 90 people, many of whom were masked. It was much smaller than similar taxi driver protests a decade ago - an event that saw a contingent of 150 largely immigrant drivers bring traffic to a standstill around city hall to decry low wages and poor working conditions.

Screen Shot 2020-04-22 at 6.05.48 PM

Today's protesters and their less noble cause were outnumbered by a large contingent of LAPD officers, and by press camerapersons and photographers.

Screen Shot 2020-04-22 at 6.06.15 PM

For much of the event, LAPD closed off one block of Spring Street and two blocks of First Street, forcing Operation Gridlock participants to circle in a larger perimeter.

And so they did, bunching at left turns while honking incessantly. The event tapered off to nothing soon after 2 p.m.

Make no mistake that these people calling for re-opening are not looking to risk their own lives.

Like Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodwyn calling for Las Vegas casinos to re-open while also saying that she wouldn't be going into them, these Operation Gridlock drivers are pressing for others to risk life and health. In an epidemic that is disproportionately killing Black people and the poor, these drivers - predominantly white and well-off - are essentially asking for others to die. Their small numbers - cars only filling up a handful of downtown blocks - do not appear to mirror larger California or Los Angeles sentiment and make them seem more akin to a traveling band than a group with firmly planted roots.

Most Angelenos are abiding by needed public health rules, avoiding unnecessary travel, and doing their part to flatten the infection curve.

Operation Gridlock on Broadway in downtown L.A.
Operation Gridlock on Broadway in downtown L.A.
Operation Gridlock driver circling L.A. City Hall
Operation Gridlock driver circling L.A. City Hall

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