The Coronavirus lockdown orders have lasted about a month, for most Americans. Patience is stretched thin, and tensions are running high as citizens start to rebel against having their freedom withheld. Maybe it’s a result of the number of Coronavirus cases not being as high as previously warned. Perhaps it’s because people feel that local governments have usurped too many of their rights. Cabin fever could be playing a role. Or, possibly, it’s a combination of all those things. But, for whatever reason, the people took to the streets over the last few days demanding a lift on at least some of the restrictions.
Protests have been held with thousands of attendees in various states, including Ohio, Virginia, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, California, Kentucky, Maryland, Texas, and Washington.
A group called “Liberate Minnesota” took their grievance directly to the governor’s house. Hundreds of protesters gathered in front of Governor Tim Walz’s residence and demanded the reopening of businesses. President Trump tweeted a brief message, which simply read, “LIBERATE MINNESOTA!” This came after an announcement by Governor Walz that the stay-at-home order, initially scheduled to end April 10, would continue until May 4. Demonstrators honked their car horns and waved flags with messages like “Stop the Shutdown” and “We do not consent.”
This protest had some success, as Walz signed an executive order allowing residents to golf, boat, fish, hunt, and hike so long as they maintain six feet of social distancing and don’t form crowds. This means that many businesses across the state can reopen beginning Saturday, April 18 – returning many employees to work.
Other protesters haven’t been as lucky. During a similar event in Michigan, Governor Gretchen Whitmer responded to the protest by acknowledging the right to protest – and threatened to extend the stay-at-home order, saying the failure of demonstrators to social distance worsened the risk of infection.
Protestors in Maryland practiced social distancing while making their objections known. They stayed inside their vehicles and honked their horns while driving around the Capitol building in Annapolis, demanding Governor Larry Hogan “Reopen Maryland.”
The organizers of the event asked participants to keep messages respectful, and many flew American flags while others wrote their protest messages on their car windows. In a letter explaining the occasion, planners wrote: “We are petitioning our governor, Larry Hogan, to immediately reopen our state’s business, educational and religious institutions.” While COVID-19 is a serious concern for the public, “the economic, social, and educational disruption caused by shutdowns is guaranteed to cause significant, even greater, harm.”
In Columbus, Ohio, folks drove by the Capitol with signs on their vehicles and honked horns in opposition to the lockdown while others gathered on sidewalks. “Open Ohio we don’t need a nanny,” one sign said. Another read, “Those who give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
While President Trump seemed to encourage the protests on Twitter, some politicians argued that loosening the rules could cause COVID-19 to spread further. “The fact is, we’re all impatient. We all want out,” said Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. “But what they’re doing is really unfortunate.”
Before the protests, Trump told reporters that some of the measures taken by states were “too tough.” He said: “These are people expressing their views … They seem to be very responsible people to me. But they’ve been treated a little bit rough.”
What do you think – are Americans right to want their freedoms back, or is it too soon?