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Protesters gathered in several states across the country Saturday to demand an end to stay-at-home orders that were put in place to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The demonstrations took place in several states, including Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Texas, and Wisconsin. Many of those who broke social distancing rules carried signs that had phrases like “This is tyranny, not quarantine” and “Shut down the shutdown.”
One of the largest rallies took place in Austin, where some 300 people gathered with many carrying signs, flags, T-shirts, and caps that made their support for President Donald Trump explicit. Protesters chanted “Let us work!” and “Fire Fauci,” as many did not seem to believe there was any need to keep distance from one another while they shook hands and hugged at the protest that was heavily promoted by conspiracy theory–peddling website Infowars. Some attendees were disappointed by the scene that unfolded on the steps of the Capitol. “We thought it was going to be a lot bigger than this,” a protester told the Austin American-Statesman.
Several hundred people also gathered outside the Ohio Statehouse on Saturday to protest the state’s stay-at-home order, with some chanting “We are not sheep.” “I believe that we’re overreacting to this. Ohio numbers are not that large for us to have people lose their businesses. It’s just not warranted,” one protester said. “I would like to see Ohio open up now! None of this is warranted for our numbers.”
In Annapolis, Maryland, people gathered to protest, but most didn’t get out of their vehicles. The demonstrators chose to drive around in circles and honk their horns. “The face mask you were duped into wearing symbolizes you loosing your freedom of speech,” one man wrote on his pickup truck.
The protests have received explicit support from the White House. “LIBERATE MINNESOTA!” “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” “LIBERATE VIRGINIA,” Trump said in a Friday tweetstorm. White House adviser Stephen Moore even went as far as to compare the demonstrators to one of the most notable civil rights icons. “I call these people the modern-day Rosa Parks—they are protesting against injustice and a loss of liberties,” Moore told the Washington Post. As the White House promoted the protests, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called on the nation to remain united. “The emotion in this country is as high as I can recall, people are frustrated, we’re anxious, we’re scared, we’re angry,” Cuomo said. “This is no time and no place for division. We have our hands full as it is. Let’s just stay together, and let’s work it through.”
It seems that for now at least the protests don’t reflect what the majority of Americans are thinking. A Pew poll released earlier this week found that 66 percent of Americans were concerned about lifting restrictions too early, while only 32 percent said they were not being lifted quickly enough. Despite the numbers, the demonstrators are clearly trying to pressure governors as they try to figure out how and when to start reopening their economies. Florida allowed some beaches to reopen Saturday, and South Carolina is also getting ready to reopen public beaches and retail stores next week, according to the Post and Courier.