A crowd boasting American flags and Trump hats gathered this Labor Day morning at the Arizona Capitol to defend the rights of business owners.
Bill Crawford, Scottsdale business owner and former City Council candidate, led the Freedom Rally to protest the actions taken by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to close businesses in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are here to speak and advocate for workers on Labor Day who can’t work because of the repressive, overreaching emergency orders,” Mr. Crawford said.
“Labor Day is a day that we set aside to honor our workers, but they’re sitting at home because they can’t work,” Mr. Crawford said.
His business, Basic Training MedX in the downtown Scottsdale area, was able to open after five months of being shut down.
“We can’t let this happen again,” Crawford said.
He explained the rally’s primary goal is to convince the state Legislature to limit the governor’s emergency powers.
A sign in the crowd read, “Liberals, let us work.”
According to Arizona Department of Health Services, Maricopa County is under “moderate” phasing, which allows some businesses to reopen at limited capacities. Bars that do not serve food have not been permitted to open, according to these measures.
State Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita spoke about the fear that has flooded the nation because of COVID-19.
“They want you to buy into a narrative,” she said.
Arizona, however, is a body of independent thinkers said Ms. Ugenti-Rita.
While Ms. Ugenti-Rita claimed to understand the two-week shutdown to flatten the curve back in spring, she said five months later the moves are simply “flattening the economy.”
To this, State Rep. Kelly Townsend added, “Enough is enough.” Calling out Gov. Ducey directly, she said, “It is illegal what you are doing.”
Attorney General Mark Brnovich criticized the governor’s actions for being illegal as well, according to published news reports. The report said Brnovich’s office has filed suit against Ducey’s executive order for its discrimination against certain bars.
Ms. Townsend demanded action from the Legislature. If two-thirds of the House and the Senate sign the petition, session will resume, Ms. Townsend said.
While the Senate has made more progress on the issue, she said there has been more struggle with the Speaker of the House, Rusty Bowers.
Ms. Townsend reinforced the importance of reaching out to state representatives to end the emergency order.
“We all need to put the pressure on,” Ms. Townsend explained, “because if we lose this constitution, we lose everything.”
Editor's Note: Tess Keiser is a student reporter at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.