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“You can’t close Gainesville rally!” attracts small crowd of people who want to get back to work

Donna Taylor shows the sign she made for the rally

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

A group of about 20 people showed up to Gainesville City Hall to rally for re-opening the economy. They had different political points of view and came from different walks of life, but they all agreed that it was time to safely reopen businesses.

Kimberly Wolf, a hairdresser at Salon at 618, said it was wrong to lump hairdressers, barbers, tattoo artists, and piercing shops in with “non-essential” businesses. She said these businesses are the only ones outside of medical providers who have to have continuing education regarding the spread of communicable diseases. All cosmeticians and shop owners are trained in sanitation. “To say that somebody who works in a box store or Walmart has better qualifications than I do, as far as keeping somebody safe from a disease, is ludicrous, and I don’t understand why we can’t be open.”

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Donna Taylor, pictured above, said “We’re not Miami… I have friends that have small businesses; they’re broke, they’re going out of business, their employees are waiting on stimulus checks… if this mayor is successful in keeping Gainesville locked down for 12-18 months until they find a vaccine… Gainesville will become a ghost town… I’m not saying don’t be safe, I’m just saying… enough is enough.”

Nick LaRandeau attended with his wife and children and said they were there for constitutional freedom. “There was talk from the mayor that he wasn’t going to open up Gainesville until there was a vaccine ready, and we think that’s ridiculous because… you’re implying that there will be certain restrictions and regulations for anybody who would not want a vaccine… We have a vaccine for the flu, but that doesn’t prevent people from dying.”

He said we need to take precautions, but those should be voluntary for individuals and businesses. “A free market economy… would provide proper precautions during this time because many people… want to go to places where employees are wearing masks and other people are wearing masks. So if a company wants to have all their employees wear masks, all the people that want to go to a place where they’re wearing masks are going to go there.”

Paula Quinn said she attended because she thinks the solution to the virus has caused more problems than the virus itself. “I think more people are suffering… people are losing their businesses they’ve worked for their entire life; it’s terrible.”

Bonnie Northsea said she was protesting the possibility of a mandated coronavirus vaccine. Her older son was injured by a vaccination, and since then they’ve “researched constantly.” Regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, she said, “I’ve actually heard scientists say it’s an impossibility, it will never be created… and then I heard another scientist doctor say if it is created, it would be… ineffective, very similar to the flu vaccine, actually… we all know the flu vaccine doesn’t work.”

Kyle Young

Kyle Young, one of the organizers of the rally, said he was the one who wrote “I prefer dangerous freedom to safe slavery” on the city’s Captain Quarantine panel on the 34th Street Wall. “It’s all about exercising our first amendment rights, due to the fact that… [people] have tried to cast blame or doubts… basically implying they’re going to cause chaos by spreading a virus that has a death rate of 0.1%… might even be lower than that. All the projections were way wrong, so I think the shutdown needs to be over for all intents and purposes. I’m fine with Phase 1, Phase 2, Phase 3, but it needs to be done steadily and as quickly as possible… The United Nations… last week said that 135 million will starve due to shutdown… the shutdown, not the virus…”

We asked his opinion on the recent County Commission decisions, and he replied, “Originally, Mayor Poe… said we’re going to keep Gainesville shut down until a vaccine’s ready, so I wrote on the wall that there’s already 26 million people unemployed; how many more is it going to take until Mayor Poe opens up Gainesville? Because we’re not going to wait 12-18 months for a vaccine; that’s insane. You can’t shut down a city for a year. The city is all small business and the university, that’s it… Do they want everyone to be poor and starve? It makes no sense… Locally, I want them to follow the state protocols because Governor DeSantis seems like he’s trying to do it weeks at a time, go through phases to get it where it needs to be. Mandatory face masks are not part of that; there’s no law, there’s nothing that allows that.”

A woman who didn’t want to be identified came up from Ocala to join the rally: “I’m a single woman, and I have bills, and my working doesn’t affect anyone in my household. I don’t think it’s fair to shut down the whole economy. Big corporations are allowed to be open, but small businesses are not, and guess what? I work at a small business, and so, do I have to give up my career and go work at Publix? I’m not doing that.”

This story has been updated to remove a name, at the request of the person who was named (and who originally provided their name to us).

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