Kirk Cameron protests stay-at-home order with caroling event during California COVID surge

Charles Trepany and Mike Harris, USA TODAY NETWORK
·3 min read

About 100 people organized by former child star Kirk Cameron, many of them without masks or practicing social distancing, gathered in Southern California Tuesday night to sing Christmas carols.

Cameron, 50, a devout Christian, promoted the event, which took place in a mall parking lot in Thousand Oaks, Calif., in advance on social media, just as he did with a previous one on Dec. 13 touted as a "Christmas caroling peaceful protest."

Cameron, who famously starred in the "Growing Pains" TV sitcom, organized the event apparently to protest Gov. Gavin Newsom's latest stay-at-home order.

"Have you ever sung Christmas carols by candlelight at a time where your state governor has prohibited you from doing that in America?" Kirk said in an Instagram video posted Dec. 11. "If you love God, if you love Christmas and you love liberty, you're not gonna want to miss this."

Though his Dec. 13 protest stoked controversy, Cameron told Fox News that people are "clamoring" for community this holiday season.

"This is the land of the free and the home of the brave, and there are thousands and thousands of people in our community who would rather not suffer in isolation and come out to sing and express their gratitude," Cameron told Fox News host Shannon Bream in a clip shared to his Instagram Dec. 18. "We believe that there is immunity in community, but there is desolation in isolation, and I want to give people hope."

Cameron has shared Instagram videos from his previous protest that show a large crowd of people singing while standing shoulder to shoulder. Few wear masks in the videos.

Both events came as California is experiencing a COVID-19 surge. As of Tuesday, the state has logged 1.9 million cases and 22,000 deaths, with new records seemingly set daily.

"I guess they call themselves activists or protesters singing Christmas carols for a couple of hours," said Capt. Eric Buschow, a spokesman for the Ventura County Sheriff's Office.

He said at one point, sheriff's deputies briefly responded to a report that a counter-protester had been battered, but determined no battery had occurred.

Counter-protesters accused Cameron of hosting a "super-spreader" event, which Buschow said lasted from about 5-7 p.m.

"And that was it," Buschow said. "No arrests. No citations."

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The Oaks mall posted a statement on social media prior to Tuesday's event saying, "We do not condone this irresponsible – yet constitutionally protected – peaceful protest event planned.

"We share your concern and have notified the sheriff's office," the statement says. "As well, we have reached out to the event planner to ask that they do not use The Oaks as their venue."

The event occurred a few days after about 20 protesters without masks had tried to walk into a Sprouts Farmers Market near the mall, said Capt. Dean Worthy of the sheriff's office.

The store's manager had immediately closed the store and refused to let the group enter, Worthy said.

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Contributing: Marco della Cava, USA TODAY

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY NETWORK: Kirk Cameron protests stay-at-home order with outdoor caroling event