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Texas bar owner organizes 'Bar Lives Matter' concert in protest of governor's orders

A Texas bar owner who is one of several currently suing Gov. Greg Abbott (R) over reimposed restrictions on bars organized a “Bar Lives Matter” concert and protest Sunday.

Tee Allen Parker, owner of The Machine Shed Bar & Grill in Kilgore, about two hours southeast of Dallas, hosted the gathering outside the bar Sunday. A second protest is planned on the steps of the capitol in Austin Tuesday, according to KLTV, a local ABC affiliate.

“You can’t tell me that my tiny little bar is the problem. He’s the problem,” Parker, who is one of multiple Texas bar owners who have banned the wearing of masks in their establishments, said of Abbott in an interview with The Washington Post. “He’s targeting us, and it’s discrimination.”

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Jared Woodfill, a Houston attorney representing Parker and 21 other plaintiffs, said Abbott's order illegally bypasses the legislative process and unfairly singles out bars while allowing businesses like barber shops and hair salons to continue operating.

“This one individual is picking and choosing winners and losers,” Woodfill told the Post. “Gov. Abbott has chosen to sentence bar owners to bankruptcy.

“Gov. Abbott continues to act like a king,” he told The Associated Press earlier this week. “Abbott is unilaterally destroying our economy and trampling on our constitutional rights.”

Texas, one of the first states to loosen restrictions, has broken its single-day record for cases several times this month, recording a new one-day high of 6,263 for Saturday.  

Abbott’s order last week required bars to shut down by noon on Friday, while also requiring restaurants to operate at no more than 50 percent capacity.

The governor in an interview over the weekend suggested he regretted allowing bars to resume operations too early.

“If I could go back and redo anything, it probably would have been to slow down the opening of bars, now seeing in the aftermath of how quickly the coronavirus spread in the bar setting,” he told KVIA in El Paso.