States like Michigan, Minnesota, and Virginia are seeing protests pop up near state capitols
Demonstrators gathered this week at state capitol buildings all over the country to protest shelter-in-place orders put in place by governors during a pandemic that has already cost more than 35,000 lives.
In states like Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, Minnesota, and North Carolina, dozens are showing up on the steps of state capitols and taking to the streets calling for the re-opening of their state’s businesses, schools, and restaurants. Many are carrying guns and holding signs comparing governors to Hitler.
“A small segment of the state is protesting and that’s their right,” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer told CNN. People are getting “stir crazy” at home, she said, and many are understandably worried about paying their bills and feeding their families. “The sad part is, though, that the more they’re out and about, the more likely they are to spread Covid-19,” Whitmer said, “and the more likely we’re going to have to take this posture for a longer period of time.”
In his press conference yesterday, Trump laid out plans for beginning to open the country in phases but said the decisions ultimately lie with the governors. Today, however, he quickly changed course, calling on people in states like Michigan, Minnesota, and Virginia to “liberate” by protesting the stay-at-home orders they have in place.
The governor of Minnesota, Tim Walz, echoed the sentiments of Whitmer that there is understanding at the level of frustration but reminding people the longer we don’t social distance, the worse things could get. “The Governor has said that we can’t lose our democracy during this pandemic, and this extends to people exercising their First Amendment rights,” Walz’s office said in a statement. “We ask that for the health and safety of themselves, their families, and their fellow Minnesotans that those demonstrating exercise good social distancing behavior.”
The Michigan Nurses Association issued a similar statement calling the protest “irresponsible” and saying it “sends exactly the opposite message that nurses and healthcare professionals are trying to get across: we are begging people, please stay home.”
In Utah, similar protests are taking place and one congressional hopeful, Republican May Burkett, participated and said, “The government, at all levels, has overstepped its authority in their request to ‘protect’ Americans from a virus. The American citizen is perfectly capable of deciding how to best protect themselves.” The problem continues to be individuals taking other people’s health and lives into their own hands.
In Raleigh, N.C., at least one woman was arrested during a protest that drew more than 100 people who weren’t observing the “six-feet apart” social distancing rules the CDC has outlined, The News & Observer reported.
In a recent Pew Research survey, 66 percent of respondents said they were worried state governments would lift restrictions too quickly and 73% of U.S. adults say that in thinking about the problems the country is facing from the coronavirus outbreak, the worst is still to come.