Protesters have continued to gather across the United States, ignoring social distancing rules, to demonstrate against lockdown orders they call ‘tyrannical’ and ‘worse than the virus’.
Crowds of people – many decked out in MAGA hats and with Donald Trump posters – have met up in Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Utah and Wyoming this week with more crowds expected in Virginia later today.
The organizer of demonstrations in Michigan, Meshawn Maddock of the Michigan Conservative Coalition Quarantine, called the lifesaving quarantines ‘tyranny’.
The group say they are ‘Republicans who want our party to stop moving left’. They run associated groups called Michigan Trump Republicans and Women for Trump. Maddock told Fox News: ‘Every person has learned a harsh lesson about social distancing. We don’t need a nanny state to tell people how to be careful.’
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said those protesting, some flying Confederate flags, had likely lengthened lockdowns. She said: ‘The sad irony here is that they…may have just created the need to lengthen it.’
A startling image from Ohio shows a baying crowd at the window of the Statehouse Atrium on Monday. Two protesters wearing Trump hats, other wave American flags and one is in the V for Vendetta mask.
In Utah, where Gov. Gary Herbert has closed down public schools for the rest of the year and ordered businesses to shutter amid the coronavirus pandemic, protest signs read ‘Resist like it’s 1776’ and ‘America will never be a socialist country.’
Republican Larry Meyers, who organized the grassroots event and ran for Senate, said it was to ‘assert our God-given, Constitutionally-protected rights, including freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, religious freedom, the right to contract, and the right to use our property as we see fit so long as we do not harm others’.
And in Kentucky protesters stood outside the window Democratic Governor Andy Beshear as he spoke the state’s residents about the ongoing lockdowns.
Hearing their shouts of ‘facts over fear’ Beshear said: ‘Folks, that would kill people. That would absolutely kill people.’
Columbus, Ohio: Protesters stand outside the Statehouse Atrium where reporters listen during the State of Ohio’s Coronavirus response update on Monday, April 13
Michigan State Capitol in Lansing: Three protesters pictured in the ‘Michiganders Against Excessive Quarantine’ protest at the Michigan Capitol building in Lansing on Wednesday posing in military garb and armed with guns
Raleigh, North Carolina: Protesters from a grassroots organization called REOPEN NC argue with a Raleigh police officer during a demonstration against the North Carolina coronavirus lockdown at a parking lot adjacent to the North Carolina State Legislature in Raleigh, North Carolina, on April 14
Richmond, Virginia: Demonstrators hold signs as they gather in opposition to Virginia’s stay-at-home order and business closures in the wake of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak on Thursday in Richmond, Virginia
Utah: Protesters gathered in Utah on Wednesday. Gov. Gary Herbert has closed down public schools for the rest of the year and ordered businesses to shutter; protest signs read ‘Resist like it’s 1776’ and ‘America will never be a socialist country’
THE GROUPS HELPING TO ORGANIZE PROTESTS AGAINST LOCKDOWNS
Republican Larry Meyers, who organized the grassroots event in Utah has also run for Senate.
Meyers describes himself as a ‘leading conservative voice’ and has ‘previously protested Planned Parenthood’, and organozed to ‘oppose illegal immigration’.
The organizer of demonstrations in Michigan , Meshawn Maddock of the Michigan Conservative Coalition Quarantine, called the lifesaving quarantines ‘tyranny’.
The group say they are ‘Republicans who want our party to stop moving left’. They run associated groups called Michigan Trump Republicans and Women for Trump.
A Reopen North Carolina Facebook page has more than 42,000 members. The grassroots group say: ‘We are residents of North Carolina that stand for The Constitution.’
ReOpen Virginia, End The Lockdown VA and Virginians Against Excessive Quarantine helped to organize the protest.
Each group has thousands of Facebook followers. One page states: ‘We are tired of the misinformation & fear mongering…Time to take our power back!!’
One supporter desrcibes herself as a ‘die hard Forever Trumper’.
Libertarians The Natrona County Campaign for Liberty helped to organisze the protest.
They say they are ‘the premier group for advancing liberty in the United States!’
A Reopen North Carolina Facebook page has more than 42,000 members. A protester there was arrested Wednesday, according to local reports.
In Ohio about 100 protesters assembled outside the building during Gov. Mike DeWine’s weekday update on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, upset that the state remains under a Stay-At-Home order and that non-essential businesses remain closed.
Residents there have questioned if DeWine is Republican after he enforced lifesaving lockdowns. One asked: ‘Don’t he believe in less government? Small government?’
One protester tweeted: ‘A tyrannical government in the making’ and said the protest was a ‘fight for our CIVIL LIBERTIES’.
And in Virginia ReOpen Virginia, End The Lockdown VA and Virginians Against Excessive Quarantine organized a protest Thursday against Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam’s lockdown.
In Wyoming protesters led calls to ‘defend liberty’ and urged Gov. Mark Gordon to not ‘flatten the economy’. Protester Cathy Ide, from the Natrona County Campaign for Liberty, told The Casper Star-Tribune: ‘You drive through Casper, it’s like a ghost town compared to what we usually are.
‘You don’t have the usual hustle and bustle, and it’s just sad.’
On Wednesday protesters defied social distancing and gathered outside Michigan’s State Capitol to demand Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer end her strict stay-at-home orders because it restricts their freedom, and they insisted people are smart enough to make their own decisions.
Furious demonstrators waving Make America Great Again flags leaned out of their car windows and chanted ‘lock her up’ in heavy traffic as part of #OperationGridlock – a stunt set up by the Michigan Conservative Coalition and the Besty DeVos family-linked conservative group, Michigan Freedom Fund.
Thousands of drivers caused havoc around the building in Lansing and backed traffic up for a mile, but hundreds defied pleas from organizers to stay in their cars by heading to the capitol steps to vent their anger at the stringent policies, which they believe are violating their constitutional rights.
Some said they would rather die from coronavirus than see the small businesses being crippled and forced to close because of the pandemic, which has so far left 28,000 infected and 5,000 dead in Michigan.
Members of the crowd – many not wearing protective medical masks and some armed with assault rifles – shouted ‘Recall Whitmer’, waved Confederate flags, showed off Trump-Pence 2020 posters and held banners saying ‘Heil Whitmer’ and ‘live free or die’.
Many said the closure of home improvement stores, greenhouses, hairdressers, landscaping companies and the banning of boating and fishing was the source of their anger.
The governor criticized the protesters for risking themselves and others taking part in the protest by touching each other, handing out food with their bare hands and blocking an ambulance. She also said it was ironic that a group rallying against her stay-at-home order ‘may have just created a reason to lengthen it’.
The gathering was an angry response to Whitmer’s executive order last Thursday where she imposed one of the strictest set of lockdown guidelines in the country.
Columbus, Ohio: People protest against the Ohio Stay at Home order, issued by Governor Mike DeWine to help slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), outside the Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio on April 9
Ohio: . About 100 protesters assembled outside the building during Gov. Mike DeWine’s weekday update on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, upset that the state remains under a Stay-At-Home order and that non-essential businesses remain closed
Thousands of furious demonstrators have gathered at Michigan’s state Capitol, creating a massive traffic jam filled with honking cars and flag-waving protesters in defiance of the state’s stringent statewide stay-at-home orders on Wednesday. Protesters, some showing off guns, pictured on the front steps of Lansing’s Capitol building urging Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to lift her lockdown mandate
Locals wrapped in winter coats and hats carried signs that said ‘Stop the Fear’, ‘End the Lockdown’ and ‘Heil Whitmer’, comparing the governor to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler
She stopped people in Michigan from returning to work, barred residents interacting with neighbors, restricted interstate travel, and prevented constituents from fleeing to their cabins in the country.
Whitmer also announced that lawn care, construction, fishing, boating with a motor, home improvement and gardening were non-essential activities – while alcohol and lottery tickets were deemed essential.
Protesters complained that their freedoms were being denied, and some lamented they could not go a hairdresser to get their roots done or stock up on lawn fertilizer.
Whitmer held a press conference during the demonstration, where she said: ‘I was really disappointed to see people congregating and not wearing masks’. She also said she saw one person ‘giving out candy with bare hands’.
‘We know that this demonstration is going to come at a cost to people’s health, she added. ‘When people gather that way without masks… that’s how COVID-19 spreads’.
‘The sad irony here is that … they don’t like being in this stay-at-home order and they may have just created the need to lengthen it, which is something we’re trying to avoid at all costs.’
‘This is about public health. I’m not focusing on politics. I’m trying to save lives here.’
Three lanes of traffic were filled with lines of cars blaring their horns outside of the state building on Capitol Avenue Wednesday afternoon, with locals declaring they’re ready to get back to work and get back to their regular lives.
Traffic was backed up for more than a mile in multiple directions in the protest.
The raucous gathering dubbed #OperationGridlock was organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition (MCC) in Lansing in protest of Dem. Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s lockdown rules that will last through April 30. A protester wearing a MAGA sweater carried a sign that said ‘Free Michigan, Trump 2020, Impeach Whitmer’
Three lanes of traffic were filled with lines of cars blaring their horns outside of the state building on Capitol Avenue Wednesday afternoon, with locals declaring they’re ready to get back to work and get back to their regular lives
People in their vehicles pictured protesting against excessive quarantine orders from Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer around the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing on Wednesday
Protesters were seen not wearing masks and failing to maintain social distancing at the Wednesday protest
Neither the Michigan State Police or the Lansing Police Department had reported any arrests by 2pm local time.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer imposes one of the strictest lockdowns in the country
Signed an executive order extending Michigan’s stay-at-home order through April and imposed new rules
- No gatherings of any people who are not part of a single household
- No travel to in-state vacation or second homes
- Large stores can only have four customers for every 1,000 square feet of customer floor space. And they must close all areas ‘dedicated to carpeting, flooring, furniture, garden centers, plant nurseries, or paint’
- No motorboat or jet ski us
Lt. Darren Green of the Michigan State Police estimated several thousand cars were part of the demonstration, with 100 to 150 people on the Capitol lawn.
The activists complained that the rules violated their civil liberties and freedoms, expressed anger over which businesses were allowed to remain open, and frustration over the cancellation of Easter and Passover services.
They also believe people are smart enough to make their own decisions regarding protecting themselves during the coronavirus epidemic.
‘I’m a state representative from the 102nd district and I’m here to support my people. I have a lot of constituents down here right now,’ State Rep. Michele Hoitenga said in an interview with a local station.
‘They want to get back to work. They can’t access the website to get benefits, then they want to get back to work. We’re recommending we adapt to federal guidelines to do it safely,’ she explained.
Most protesters expressed their desire to get back to work as unemployment in the country has skyrocketed by more than 16 million over the past three weeks.
‘I’d rather die from the coronavirus than see a generational company be gone,’ Justin Heyboer of Alto, Michigan, said to USA Today. His family has owned Wildwood Family Farms for four generations, which is suffering a major financial blow in light of the coronavirus crisis and lockdown.
On Thursday Gov Whitmer issued a new stay-at-home order tightening constraints by closing home-improvement stores, limiting use of motorboats, restricting interstate travel, and barring constituents from fleeing the heavily afflicted parts of the states to their cabins in rural Michigan. A man pictured protesting in his boat pictured above
An Operation Gridlock protester pictured standing on top of his car holding a Trump 2020 poster
‘It’s time for our state to be opened up. I’m tired of not being able to buy the things we need, go to the hair dressers, get our hair done,’ one woman said to Fox News, showing her graying roots.
‘Can’t buy paint, can’t buy lawn fertilizer or grass seed, come on, all statewide?’ another local added.
The Michigan House Republicans shared posts about the protest on Twitter saying: ‘People are upset because they believe the restrictive order is taking away their fundamental civil liberties and freedoms’
‘All of these people still have to go home to the sober reality that they don’t have income coming in. It’s heartbreaking,’ Meshawn Maddock, a board member of the Michigan Conservative Coalition, said.
Whitmer’s executive order was met with immediate backlash let by Republican state legislators who found her rules draconian and excessive.
On Tuesday, a group of four Michigan residents filed a lawsuit against her saying her order infringes upon First and Fourth Amendment rights.
President Donald Trump said in March he had a ‘big problem’ with Whitmer referring to her as ‘that young, a woman governor’.
‘I love Michigan, one of the reasons we are doing such a GREAT job for them during this horrible Pandemic. Yet your Governor, Gretchen ‘Half’ Whitmer is way in over her head, she doesn’t have a clue. Likes blaming everyone for her own ineptitude! #MAGA,’ he tweeted.
Some signs held by protesters said: Even Pharaoh freed slaves during a plague’
These two girls held a sign that said ‘My constitutional rights are essential’ at the Wednesday protest
A woman smiles and waves a Trump 2020 flag from the back of a pick-up truck at the Wednesday Operation Gridlock protest
A banner saying Benjamin Franklin quote ‘Security without liberty is called prison’ was displayed in front of the Capitol building
‘Governor Whitmer believes that everyone has a right to protest and speak up,’ Whitmer’s deputy press secretary said of the Wednesday protests in a statement, according to Business Insider.
‘She knows that a lot of people are angry and frustrated, and will always defend everyone’s rights to free speech – the Governor asks those who choose to protest these orders to do so in a manner that doesn’t put their health or the health of our first responders at risk.’
The governor spoke out about the backlash she’s received from the MCC in a news conference earlier this week, in which she pointed out that the group is funded in large part by the family of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and is very active in Michigan conservative politics.
‘This group is funded in large part by the DeVos family,’ she said Monday, according to local station WWJ. ‘And I think it’s really inappropriate for a sitting member of the United States president’s Cabinet to [be] waging political attacks on any governor.’
‘I think that they should disavow it, and I encourage people to stay home and be safe,’ she said.