Signs, slogans, and disruptions, the United States protestors are at it again, but this time it is to end the lockdown. The protests have brought out the fringe groups, chanting “Make America Free Again,” backed up by conspiracy theorists, anti-vaccine advocates, anti-government activists, and many more.
After the White House media debriefing by President Donald Trump and the members of the Coronavirus Taskforce on April 15 regarding possibilities to ease lockdown restrictions, many protests that took place in various states across the country the following weekend.
As of April 25, the United States has surpassed over 8,70,000 confirmed cases, and more than 3,000 deaths came in the last 24 hours, taking total death toll over 50,000. Although there seems to be a slowdown of infections, most of the US states are still under tight lockdown rules even after the allowance of slight relaxations. And this is what angered the people, leading them to protest against the Government.
Why are the protests happening?
Fuelled by a string of the Presidents tweets, in which he used the word ‘Liberate’ to pinpoint three states that have implemented lockdown measures, not taking into consideration the three-phase policy. He describes them as “Too tough” and subliminally encouraged protests against social distancing policies in those states and many across the country.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 17, 2020
Anti-lockdown protests gather momentum across the United States as armed demonstrators waving Trump 2020 flags and ignoring social distancing rules called for America to reopen immediately.
Citizens have been blocking roads, honking car horns, and are out on the streets to display their disapproval of the lockdowns. This led many to believe that this was one method of election campaigning across the country by the conservatives and the far-right groups who would like to see President Trump on his second presidential term.
Protesters gather in front of Governors’ homes and state capitals to exercise their right to freedom and alleging an infringement of their liberties. They also believe that the stay-at-home policies put in place by the state’s Governments are an overreaction to COVID-19, implying that the lockdown is likely to cause long term damage to local economies.
How did it start?
One of the first, anti-lockdown protests started in the state of Michigan on April 15. Information on a Facebook page titled “Operation Gridlock,” called demonstrators to take their vehicles and stop traffic near the states capital building. The demonstration was meant to protest against Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s strict coronavirus lockdown measures.
Since then, several alike Facebook pages have emerged, encouraging protests of a similar sort to take place in Virginia, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. Many featured the same introduction text on their “About” sections, including Operation Gridlock Tennessee and Operation Gridlock Los Angeles.
Reactions and Response
Though many governors said they supported the demonstrators’ right to protest, some were concerned that not following social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders would contribute to the spread of the virus.
Facebook, being the main platform for these protest organizers, has responded that it would ban any events or pages that “defy government’s guidance on social distancing.” They have reached out to states specifically to understand the regulations put in place for the lockdown and removed posts that have violated the rules. It will allow protests that abide by social distancing guidelines to go forth, but will shut down the ones that defy those health orders.
Healthcare workers are outraged and furious at these disruptions happening across the United States. They, too, are counter-protesting the anti-lockdown demonstrations and demanding people to stay-at-home, especially in Denver, Colorado.
Protestors are ignoring the social distancing guidelines, which will only make matters worse. Already piled up with a massive number of positive cases, the protestors are not making it any easier for those working to flatten the curve.
With the days of the presidential elections drawing nearer, the situation in America right now cannot be dismissed entirely as a Republican vs Democrat war. According to a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center, the democrats (81 per cent) seem to be united on the opinions and concerns that the Government will lift the restrictions too quickly. The Republicans are divided (51 percent) believing the state governments will act too quickly and (46 percent) worry that restrictions on public movement will not be lifted soon enough.
Most Americans (65 percent) say that Trump was too slow to take significant steps to address the threat in the United States. These protests are not doing anyone any good; slogans addressing people’s concern of death due to the virus insist that a person’s fear should not be used to curb down on another person’s liberty.
People on Social media are angry and furious at the anti-lockdown protests and even resorted to calling them #MAGA2020 #Idiots (Make America Great Again).
Is losing a business more important than losing your life? Are we, as the protestors say “Over-reacting” to the virus? What are your thoughts?