A SWAT team in the western Texas town of Odessa arrested a bar owner and a group of armed men conducting a peaceful protest against the coronavirus lockdown on Monday, after police say they violated the state's order to remain closed.
According to Everything Lubbock, Gabrielle Ellison - owner of Big Daddy Zanes, said the Ector County Sheriff's Office told her it was fine to hold the protest as long as men with guns aren't seen on the property. She claims that out of respect for law enforcement, the men were confined to the back - which is her private property.
Governor Greg Abbott's latest executive order prohibits bars, gyms and salons from reopening.
Ector County Sheriff’s SWAT team raiding a peaceful protest at Big Daddy Zane’s in West Odessa. The bar opened this afternoon despite Abbott’s latest orders, saying “all businesses are essential.”— JuYeon Kim (@JuYeonKimTV) May 5, 2020
Full coverage tonight on @KPEJFOX24News & @Big2News pic.twitter.com/WHiwhmisgs
"We can’t take it no more. We’re not going to make it," said Ellison, adding "I am shocked. I had customers come through saying, ‘You know they have SWAT built up, they have SWAT built up.’ Why would you bring in SWAT on a peaceful situation?"
Ellison said the risk of staying closed outweighs the risk of any virus — even if it means potentially getting in trouble.
“The possibility of losing my license – heartbreaking. But they’ve already taken my income,” said Ellison. -Everything Lubbock
Hilariously, a now-deleted gofundme was set up to buy a treadmill for the portly cops in the Ector County Sheriff's Department (h/t @FordFischer)
Meanwhile, another peaceful protest was held across town in front of Anytime Fitness on 8th Street, where owner Clint Gillispie said he was issued a citation for remaining open.
"If they cite me it’s one thing, because I’m the owner," he said, adding "I am responsible for the business, but to assume that they are going to come in and start issuing citations for anybody that’s here, to me, that’s a separate violation of their first amendment rights. I feel like they’re just doing that to intimidate and harass."
"Best case scenario is we’re allowed to open, we’re allowed to survive."