SWAT team in Texas raids local bar for protesting to reopen

Around the South

"The possibility of losing my license - heartbreaking. But they've already taken my income."

ODESSA, Texas (Big 2/Fox 24) – Per Governor Greg Abbott’s latest executive order, bars, gyms, and salons are not allowed to open yet. However, this is not stopping some local businesses from opening anyway. What was supposed to be a “peaceful” demonstration quickly took a wrong turn at Big Daddy Zane’s, a local bar in West Odessa. 

Owner, Gabrielle Ellison, opened up her doors despite Abbott’s latest order. A risk she says she understands all too well, but it boils down to feeding her family.

“We can’t take it no more, we’re not going to make it,” said Ellison. “I am aware of what’s going on down the road. I am shocked. I had customers come through saying, ‘You know they have SWAT built up, they have SWAT built up.’  Why would you bring in SWAT on a peaceful situation?”

Ellison says the risk of staying closed outweighs the risk of any virus. Even if it means potentially getting in trouble with law enforcement.

“The possibility of losing my license – heartbreaking. But they’ve already taken my income,” said Ellison.

Ellison says she spoke with the Sheriff’s Office prior to the protest. They told her everything would be fine as long as men with guns are not seen on the property. Out of respect for law enforcement, she says she confined the men to an area in the back, which is her private property.

Across town was another gathering. Owner of Anytime Fitness on 8th Street, Clint Gillispie, says he was issued a citation for keeping his business open.

“If they cite me it’s one thing, because I’m the owner,” explained Gillispie. “I am responsible for the business, but to assume that they are going to come in and start issuing citations for anybody that’s here, to me, that’s a separate violation of their first amendment rights. I feel like they’re just doing that to intimidate and harass.”

While he complied at first, he says could not risk losing his business for good. He says Monday’s gathering is not a revolution, but a response to what he believes is unconstitutional.

“Best case scenario is we’re allowed to open, we’re allowed to survive.”

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