Over the weekend, protests erupted across the country over stay-at-home orders due to the coronavirus pandemic. The main people expressing their outrage were MAGA-sympathizing racists and other white folks openly carrying their guns in public.
According to CNN, the demonstrations went down in places like Maryland, Michigan, Colorado and Indiana. People left their houses and gathered in crowds, going against the social distancing mandates of many states. “Freedom over fear,” one protester’s sign read in Indiana. “Shutdown the shutdown,” another sign in Maryland showed.
“If I get sick, then I am going to bear the consequences of my getting sick,” Indianapolis protestor Andy Lyons told CNN affiliate WTHR. “If anybody else gets sick, they bear the consequences of their free choice without government coercion to do so. That’s what this is about.”
More protests are supposed to occur on Monday. The Republican governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, tried to quell the sentiments on Sunday, telling CNN’s “State of the Union” that he understands “the frustration among the people that want to get things open right away. I’m frustrated also.”
He continued, “We’re doing everything we possibly can to reopen in a safe manner. But I don’t think it’s helpful to encourage demonstrations and encourage people to go against the President’s own policy.”
In Maryland and Indiana, various protestors wore hats or waved signs in support of President Donald Trump. But Hogan pointed out that Trump’s own proposal for states to reopen in phases wouldn’t let Maryland reopen in the first place. According to the “Opening Up America Again” guidelines, states shouldn’t begin reopening until they have a downward trajectory of documented cases in a 14-day timeframe or a downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests in a 14-day timeframe. Many places, including Maryland, haven’t reached this White House criteria yet.
Despite the guidelines, Trump has still been emboldening protestors with tweets calling on them to “liberate” themselves from their state. One of the biggest protests was in Michigan, where demonstrators denounced Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer‘s extension of the state’s stay-home order through April 30. “I realize how important this virus is, but now we’re getting to the point where we’re shutting too much stuff down,” protester Tom Hughey, who said he has a small business, explained to CNN affiliate WILX.
Meanwhile, “Michigan, right now, has the third highest death count in the country” from coronavirus,” Whitmer said. According to a Sunday report by The Detroit News, Michigan has reported 31,424 COVID-19 cases, with 2,391 deaths recorded. At least 40% of fatalities are Black people. This number is even higher for Detroit, with at least 76%.
Across the country, Black people have been disproportionately dying from the coronavirus, with states like Michigan, North Carolina, Illinois, and Louisiana releasing data on the disproportionate coronavirus cases within the Black community. Michigan was one state that made the first move of starting a task force specifically designed to address the disproportionate number of Black people suffering from COVID-19. Meanwhile, activists and lawmakers across the country have been demanding leaders collect more data on how the coronavirus is affecting Black people and to implement solutions.
It’s safe to say the anti-lockdown protestors didn’t have this on their agenda along with reopening businesses. According to Daily Beast, gun rights activists are reportedly orchestrating the protests and according to pictures, many protestors are openly carrying firearms. In Washington state, organizers compared their demonstration to the “shot heard around the world” before the Revolutionary War. One GOP legislator described an ongoing “rebellion” against Washington state’s Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee and hinted that if such restrictions continued, “we’ll see what a revolution looks like.” In Denver, protesters waved signs saying things like “Dangerous freedom over gov’t tyranny.”
It’s worth mentioning again, that these protestors are completely defying social distancing and stay-at-home orders and many of them didn’t even have face protection. Meanwhile, a Black man in Philadelphia was dragged off a bus by multiple police officers for not wearing a face mask or protection, and in New Orleans, a Black man was swiftly arrested for organizing a second line during a stay-at-home order. Footage has yet to surface of white anti-lockdown protestors being violently criminalized in the same way.
Health officials have warned that additional waves of the coronavirus pandemic are pretty much inevitable, but “it’s up to us how big those other waves will be,” epidemiologist Dr. Larry Brilliant explained. He warned against repeating mistakes from the 1918 flu pandemic that left 675,000 Americans dead. In that time, epidemiologists say, people gave up social distancing too early, causing a second wave of infections that was deadlier than the first.
Considering Black people are still fighting to be seen and heard in the midst of this pandemic, it’s clear African American communities will once again be hit hard by a second wave.
You can check out white people not giving this any thought in the anti-lockdown protest coverage below, complete with MAGA glorification and racist confrontations.