Anti-racism protesters planning a kid-friendly block party Sunday featuring a barbecue, basketball and free haircuts would violate Pennsylvania’s yellow phase restrictions against gatherings of over 25 people, Lancaster Mayor Danene Sorace said in a statement Saturday.
Sorace in the statement said she supports peaceful protest, but also must consider that organizers don’t have a permit to close a block, would prepare food without a license, and would violate yellow phase prohibitions on haircuts and nail salons.
Carlos Jimenez, 22, who was planning the street party, told LNP that although he disagrees with the mayor’s stance, he will likely call off the event to avoid a confrontation with police.
“The police are now threatening to arrest anybody in the streets,” Jimenez said Saturday afternoon. “I don’t think we’re going to have that tomorrow.”
Jimenez, a native of the Bronx who moved to Lancaster a couple of months ago, said the plans included a barbeque, a barber to cut children’s hair, a teacher to engage children in learning, a basketball court and possibly a projector to show a kid-friendly movie.
“It was more of a family thing, trying to get people out to understand what we’re doing here, and that way, maybe more from the community would come out,” he said.
Jimenez said he doesn’t understand why it’s now OK to open a store and sell sneakers, but it’s not OK to have a street event for kids.
He said the mayor and police this past week held news conferences and meetings with protesters that far exceeded 25 people.
“At this point, they don’t care about the coronavirus,” Jimenez said. “They don’t care about people being next to each other. They care about being in control.”
Jimenez said his intention is to avoid confrontation and keep the protest peaceful.
“They expected us to riot and get crazy, and we didn’t,” he said. “From now on it’s going to be more of a sidewalk thing. We’re going to occupy the sidewalks.”