Reporter’s Notebook: Stimulus Symphony

Protester at the capitol, April 20, 2020. Photo by Karlos Rene Ayala

I had it in my head to make a series of documentaries about common people and how they are dealing with the fallout of COVID-19 in America. Nothing fancy, just simple questions, simple visuals and personal truths.

I was going to call this series STIMULUS and post roughly one a month. I did not expect my STIMULUS series to begin with protest videos, but they fit my thesis.

On Friday, April 17, I was sitting on my couch, giving my eyes a break from some social media timeline. After a few seconds, my eyes were back on my phone: I spied a video of what appeared to be a small group of patriotic-looking individuals by the Jiffy Lube on Capitol Ave. I figured the group was on the move to the state Capitol, an assumption I made from recent news articles concerning the surge of protests in regards to the shutdowns. I was correct.

I quickly headed downtown and documented the Walking For Us protest in front of the Capitol. t was a humble gathering of about 15 people, half of them children — a family event. They noted that I should join them for what they said would be a larger protest on Monday.

STIMULUS: SYMPHONY explores some nuances of the ideological landscape that made up Operation Gridlock, a partially vehicular protest engaging several hundred people of various ideological affiliations held in Sacramento on April 20. Predominantly, people appeared to be there in protest of the California shelter-in-place policy enacted by Gov. Gavin Newsom during the pandemic, but there was a wild spectrum of beliefs, ideas and ideologies.

Editor’s Note: Videographer Karlos Rene Ayala has handled numerous projects for Capitol Weekly, including our conference series and Open California’s Oral History project.

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