By: Suzanne Copeland, Contributing writer
La Plata, MD- On Friday, May 15, 2020, at 5:00 p.m. demonstrators gathered in front of the Charles County Government Center to protest the Board of County Commissioners decision to postpone the counties phase 1 reopening schedule. The protest was led by Bill Dotson, former District 28 Delegate, after the Board of County Commissioners voted in a 3-2 to keep Charles County closed until May 29, 2020.
The demonstrators were met with opposition from Deron Tross, publisher and creator for the Facebook group, Charles County Matters Est. 2015. Tross and several other demonstrators supporting the Commissioner’s decision arrived to protest their right to reopen when it is safer.
According to Dotson, the county commissioners did not listen to the experts who were asked to weigh in on where the county stands on being able to reopen into Phase 1 as St. Mary’s and Calvert Counties are doing. Dotson also states that “County Commissioner Collins was in contact with the Prince Georges County Executive Alsobrooks and made the decision to stand with Prince Georges County, instead of deciding what was best for Charles County residents and businesses.”
Dotson also claims that “three of the five commissioners aligned themselves with PG County for political reasons, and ignored the cost of all these people and their businesses. And we didn’t vote for Angela Alsobrooks to be our commissioner, we voted for the group of five in that building to be our commissioners.”
Many there who were protesting the county commissioner’s decision, told how they had taken all this time that they were under the “Stay at Home’ order to find the proper PPE, thoroughly clean and sanitize their business, ensured that they had employees willing to come back and work at 5 pm on May 15th.
One woman, Kayleen Edwards, shared her story about her business, and how she has had to live off her savings, just to survive not having her business open. Edwards is the one who handles estate sales when someone sells their home or passes away. She described how she was in the middle of holding an estate sale, only allowing 4 people inside the home at a time when a neighbor called the police, the police came and told her to shut it down, because her business is not essential, or she would go to jail.
The opposition, led by Tross, was there to agree with the county commissioners’ decision. Tross did not have nearly as many protesters on his side, as Dotson did. Tross also said that he did not believe businesses were ready or prepared to reopen to ensure the safety of every customer that comes into their business. “It’s two weeks. The county commissioners asked for two weeks to educate other business owners, not alot of business owners here are ready to open up with the proper PPE.”
When asked if he thought these businesses would be ready to open in two weeks, Tross said, “I believe two weeks is enough time, the county is going through a rapid program of notifying folks to get stuff.”
Ultimately, the protest ended peacefully around 6 p.m. No county commissioners appeared at the protest for questioning by the media. The Charles County Sheriff’s Department was on premises to ensure the safety of all involved in the protests.
Editor’s Note: More videos are being added