ODESSA, Texas — A SWAT team raided an open business, Big Daddy Zanes, in West Odessa on Monday.
The business was open but also there were armed men carrying on a peaceful protest near the bar.
Owner, Gabrielle Ellison, said she spoke with the Ector County Sheriff’s Office prior to the protest. According to Ellison, she was told everything would be fine as long as men with guns are not seen on the property. Out of respect for law enforcement, she said she confined the men to an area in the back, which is her private property.
Per Governor Greg Abbott’s latest executive order, bars, gyms, and salons are not allowed to open yet.
Ellison opened up her doors despite Abbott’s latest order.
“We can’t take it no more. We’re not going to make it,” said Ellison. “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 said the risk of staying closed outweighs the risk of any virus — even if it means potentially getting in trouble.
“The possibility of losing my license – heartbreaking. But they’ve already taken my income,” said Ellison.
Across town was another gathering. Owner of Anytime Fitness on 8th Street, Clint Gillispie, said 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 said 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.”
(YourBasin.com contributed to this report.)