Wayne Allyn Root, a conservative radio host and former Review-Journal columnist, called the demonstration he organized Friday on the Strip to demand that Nevada businesses be allowed to reopen “the safest protest in the world.”
“Nobody ever had a chance to make anybody sick,” Root broadcast over the radio and later repeated to reporters, describing the line of cars people drove north on Las Vegas Boulevard in protest as Root hosted his show.
Earlier, however, a crowd of people gathered at the Las Vegas South Premium Outlets’ parking lot, where protesters were instructed to arrive at 2 p.m., an hour before the protest started. Few people were wearing masks as others walked around, chatting and buying President Donald Trump-themed apparel.
By 2:55 p.m., a man with a megaphone instructed people to get into their cars.
Metropolitan Police Department Capt. Warner George said police estimated about 980 vehicles participated and most cars in the outlet parking lot appeared to have at least two people inside.
Addressing reporters at the Sawyer Building, where the protest ended, Root said the event aimed to send a message to the government to “reopen the Nevada economy.”
Workers and small-business owners are ready to go back to work, he said.
“We’re willing to take the risk. We’re willing to sacrifice. We want to go out there and run our businesses for our family and our country,” Root said.
Before the protest, 70-year-old Trudy Wilson stood in the mall’s parking lot and said she wasn’t afraid of catching the virus during the gathering.
“I think people need to be able to get back to work,” Wilson said. “Young people should be able to work and support their families.”
Wilson was standing in a group of four that included 58-year-old Terri Williams, who was wearing a pink “Make America Great Again” visor and carrying a cloth face mask.
Williams said she wasn’t worried about getting sick because the rate of people who have died is low.
“Is that enough to stop our economy? I don’t think so,” she said.
As of Friday, 203 people have died in Nevada and 4,398 people have tested positive, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services’ website.
Ronald Solomon was one of several people in the parking lot hawking Trump-themed clothing, walking from car to car and selling hats for $20.
Asked if he was worried about selling items as a nonessential business, Solomon said, “This is America. That’s my answer.”
Gene Sironen said he was frustrated with Gov. Steve Sisolak’s instructions for when businesses would reopen. A sign taped to his car’s backseat window compared Nevada’s population with the number of people who have died of the virus.
“We think it’s time to get some real planning done,” the 65-year-old said.