ECTOR COUNTY, TEXAS (YourBasin) — What was supposed to be a peaceful demonstration quickly took a wrong turn at a Texas bar this week.
Gabrielle Ellison, owner of Big Daddy Zane’s bar in West Odessa, opened her doors despite Gov. Greg Abbott’s latest executive order requiring bars, gyms and salons to remain closed. She said it boiled down to feeding her family.
“We can’t take it no more. We’re not going to make it,” said Ellison.
She said 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.
She said she spoke with the Sheriff’s Office prior to the protest. 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 who were armed to an area in the back of her bar, which is her private property.
Video from the raid shows men with guns raising their hands in the air as officers moved in.
“I am aware of what’s going on down the road,” 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?”
Across town was another gathering. Clint Gillispie, owner of Anytime Fitness, 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 said he 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.”