FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) — The scene in front of the Tower Theatre in downtown Fresno Sunday looked a lot like it has for the past eight Sundays.
However, this Sunday felt different for many demonstrators, who are celebrating a judge’s decision made Wednesday to temporarily halt the sale of the Tower Theatre to Adventure Church
“It was inspiring to see that right be respected,” Demonstration Organizer, Alicia Rodriguez said.
The temporary restraining order was granted to allow more time for the court to determine the legality of the sale. An attorney for the owners of Sequoia Brewing Company argued it violated their lease. An attorney with Tower Theater properties denies that it does.
Tower District residents say the possible sale of the theatre to Adventure Church goes against zoning restrictions and threatens the integrity of the district.
“Every local business around here has had to go through the tower-specific plan and several committees to get approved for how they operate. It’s a process that everybody has to go through, it’s part of the integrity of the neighborhood,” Rodriguez said.
So far, the Save the Tower Theatre legal fund has raised nearly $45,000. To support the legal efforts of Sequoia Brewing.
As the movement gains more attention, counter-protestors have shown up too. Including a group wearing what appeared to be “Proud boys” logos.
“We have told the church, if you are not denouncing this kind of behavior – in other words, antagonists coming here to start violence – then you are complicit,” Rodriguez said.
A judge scheduled a hearing for March 17th.
With witnesses allowed to testify, demonstrators say they are prepared to speak out against the sale at every level, for as long as it takes.
“We are prepared to make our voices heard at every level of city government, and we are going to oppose any proposed rezoning of the tower theatre with everything we’ve got, ” Jaguar Bennett with Save the Tower Theater Demonstration Committee said.