In Michigan, demonstrators drove thousands of vehicles — many draped with protest signs — to the state Capitol on Wednesday, loudly protesting Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s lockdown measures.
As snow fell, some got out of their vehicles in the city of Lansing and raised signs, one of which read, “Gov Whitmer we are not prisoners”.
The “Operation Gridlock” protest was organised by the Michigan Conservative Coalition.
“This arbitrary blanket spread of shutting down businesses, about putting all of these workers out of business, is just a disaster. It’s an economic disaster for Michigan,” coalition member Meshawn Maddock said. “And people are sick and tired of it.”
State infection numbers in Michigan appeared to flatten somewhat going into last weekend, but both infection and death numbers were up again on Monday. The virus has killed more than 1900 state residents.
Whitmer said she respected the right to protest, saying it did not violate the stay-at-home order, but she said many of the protesters put themselves and others at risk of contracting COVID-19.
About 100 protesters demanded Democratic Governor Andy Beshear reopen Kentucky and disrupted his televised pandemic update by chanting, blowing horns and shouting into a megaphone outside the window of the briefing room, nearly drowning out his comments. The virus has killed 122 Kentuckians and infected 2291 so far.
Protesters, some of whom appeared to be standing too close to each another, chanted “we want to work” and “facts over fear”.
About halfway through his briefing, Beshear acknowledged the protesters, saying “there’s some noise in the background.”
“We do have some folks up in here in Kentucky today — and everybody should be able to express their opinion — that believe we should reopen Kentucky immediately, right now,” Beshear said. “Folks, that would kill people. That would absolutely kill people.”
In Ohio, about 100 protesters gathered outside the Statehouse during Republican Governor Mike Dewine’s appearance on Monday, at least one wearing a Donald Trump hat while many carried signs expressing displeasure at the stay-at-home order or waved American flags.
Additionally, a growing chorus of Ohio’s Republican lawmakers want DeWine to set a date for the first phase of re-opening businesses, schools and public places.
Earlier, the first-term Republican governor made it clear during an interview with MSNBC’s Morning Joe that any loosening of the stay-at-home order would be contingent on coronavirus testing results and other health data.
“Whenever we open up, however we do it, if people aren’t confident, if they don’t think they’re safe, they’re not going to go to restaurants, they’re not going to go to bars, they’re not going to really get back into society,” DeWine said.
One protester questioned whether DeWine was truly a Republican, asking, “Don’t he believe in less government? Small government?”
Protests have also been held in Utah 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”, according to a Facebook post; in North Carolina and in Virginia where groups with names like ReOpen, End The Lockdown and Virginians Against Excessive Quarantine have sprung up.
“Government mandating sick people to stay home is called quarantine. However, the government mandating healthy citizens to stay home, forcing businesses and churches to close is called tyranny,” said ReOpen Virginia in a press release.
USA Today, AP