A bar owner in Palm Desert, California who's upset over stay-at-home orders has ignited a firestorm after he plastered offensive messages on the rooftop of his bar.
“Save jobs! Hang a politician,” one side of the Red Barn reads. On the other, “suck my governor.”
“All I want to do is run my business. Leave me alone, let me operate my business and move on. I don’t need the state’s help," the owner, John Labrano, told KESQ. “It’s a little frustrating when you see businesses operating like nothing. The mattress store, the golf cart store, the liquor store. It doesn’t matter-- everybody is operating. If this is a shut down, shut it down.”
Residents were split on the messages. Some said they agreed it was time for restaurants and bars like Labrano’s to open. Another resident called it “hate speech.”
“It's unfortunate,” said Palm Desert City Council Member Jan Harnik. “We’ve looked into it legally to make sure that we’re not allowing something that would be inappropriate or would be hate speech. As far as we can tell with the city and our legal experts can tell, it’s freedom of speech.”
The speech may be legal but reopening against the state’s orders is not. KESQ reports that Red Barn is now in danger of losing its liquor license after reportedly opening its doors to patrons.
The fury over shelter-in-place orders has reached a boiling point. Last week, protesters showed up at the home of Fresno City Council President Miguel Arias. An altercation ensued and Arias is now facing three counts of assault. Some of his Council colleagues have had to increase security at their homes. The incident prompted this op-ed from GrassrootsLab’s Mike Madrid calling for an end to the harassment and intimidation of public officials.