Jay Vandenburg

Galt resident Jay Vandenburg holds a sign telling City Councilmembers to listen to their constituents.

With posters, American flags and a sound system blaring patriot music, nearly 50 Galt residents gathered in front of Galt City Hall Saturday, May 30 to rally for the reopening of all businesses, schools and churches in Galt, after the statewide shutdown to help “flatten the curve” of the spread of the coronavirus.

Although most businesses have been allowed to open under strict regulations, many doors are still shuttered, including bars, nail salons and gyms.

People of all ages gathered at the intersection of Civic Drive and C Street Saturday morning to protest that certain businesses are still not allowed to reopen despite the city meeting state requirements set for individual counties.

As of Tuesday, June 2, Galt has had 15 positive cases since testing began in early April. No deaths from the virus have been reported for Galt.

With signs saying “#Fully Open Galt”, “All Jobs Are Essential”, “Open Our Churches”, “Open Our Schools”, “Churches Are More Than Essential” and “City Council Listen To Your People”, protestors are hoping their message reaches city, county and state leaders.

The rally gained a lot of attention from passersby, with most drivers honking their horns, waving and throwing a thumbs-up to participants.

Event organizer Michelle Kiel said Galt residents and business owners want City Council to hear their cry.

“We’re trying to get our voices heard,” Kiel said. “We had exhausted all other options. We had written to City Council during public comment, we had written to all of the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, the county health officer, we reached out, we exhausted all of those options. Then we decided we needed to have a protest so City Council will listen to us – and declare our city a sanctuary for businesses.”

Keil explained that a sanctuary city for businesses is one where businesses could open and not be penalized by the city or city police.

“We’re just asking that they (the businesses) are able to open up without any repercussions from the city, such as police coming in and shutting them down,” Kiel said. “If they have a state license, like a manicurist or a bar, if they wish to open and choose to risk their license, that is their choice. If they want to serve alcohol at the bar or do nails, then that’s their choice, and we’re just asking that the city not penalize them for doing so. And, obviously, we support businesses opening responsibly, taking proper health and safety precautions.”

Kiel said that they are not asking businesses to open if they are not comfortable doing so, but are hoping to provide a safe environment for those business owners who wish to open.

“We live in America where you should be able to make your own decisions as long as they are not directly harming anyone,” Kiel said. “And anyone who’s going to visit an establishment that is open right now, they are assuming the risk – and that’s America. We have to be able to assume our own risks; I mean, you get in a car every day and drive and assume all the risks that come with that, why can’t I go to a bar and have a drink?”

And, for those who don’t feel comfortable visiting a business, Kiel says, stay home.

“If you’re afraid, then you stay home and let me live my life,” Kiel said.

Like her fellow protesters, Kiel feels that their previous pleas have fallen on deaf ears.

“City Council doesn’t want to budge, Kiel said. “They don’t want to do anything and that’s what they were voted in to do – to listen to their constituents, and they’re not listening.”

Asked what she would say if she were able to stand in front of the City Council members, Kiel said, “Listen to the overwhelming majority of Galt who is requesting that our city be declared a sanctuary for businesses. Let our businesses open up. Find a way to open up all businesses.”