Protesters gather in Huntington Beach in defiance of state curfew amid COVID-19 surge

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- A crowd of dozens of people gathered in front of the Huntington Beach Pier Saturday night to protest on the first night of a nearly statewide nighttime curfew aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19.

The curfew affects all counties in Southern California, but protesters in Orange County were sending a message to Gov. Gavin Newsom, saying they won't follow the new guidelines.

The people gathered at 10 p.m. Saturday along Pacific Coast Highway at Main Street, crossing the highway when allowed by the traffic light, said Huntington Beach police Lt. Ryan Reilly.

Speaking into a microphone, one woman addressed the crowd and said: "Patriots are uniting, and we're gonna stand and we are going to fight for our rights. We are Americans, and they will never take our rights away."

The group was law-abiding "for the most part," Reilly said. One person was arrested for public intoxication. "Some, not all" wore face masks.

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A nighttime curfew took effect across California Saturday night as spiking coronavirus cases threaten to swamp health care systems and the state's largest county warned that an even more drastic lockdown could be imminent.

It appeared the vehicles passing through the area were part of the demonstration and the same vehicles were seen moving north and south on PCH, Reilly said.

Officers were there watching the activity but no illegal assembly was declared, he said.

Sergeants posted in the Main Street area reported that all of the bars, restaurants and other businesses closed by 10 p.m., Reilly said.

The department did not issue citations for curfew violations, he said.

"We are seeking compliance and trying to educate people."

A similar rally was also held in San Clemente, where protesters were seen burning masks.

City News Service contributed to this report.
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