(The Center Square) – More than two dozen state capitols across America have seen, or will soon see, protests pushing for their governors to begin lifting restrictions put in place to stem the tide of coronavirus complications.
Arizonans gathered across the street from their state capital in Phoenix for “Patriot’s Day” at noon Monday in what’s the second protest there and the latest in the loosely-coordinated push to loosen the restrictions that have crippled the economy. Across the nation, 21 million people have applied for unemployment in the last four weeks.
A tally from FOX Business shows 24 states will have seen protests by the end of the day Monday, with three more scheduled later in the month.
In Tennessee, protesters gathered outside the state Capitol for the second consecutive day to rally for reopening Tennessee’s economy.
Monday’s protest was smaller than Sunday. Among the signs on display Monday were posters that read: “All jobs are essential,” “No new taxes or restrictions” and “Tennessee 1796-2020 Murdered by executive order.”
Organizers for ReOpenNC planned to protest for the second consecutive Tuesday outside the state Capitol in Raleigh, N.C. After the arrest of a protester last week, the group is seeking assurances it will be allowed to protest Tuesday without any legal ramifications. Without those assurances, the group said it will go to the courts for protection.
A protest is planned Wednesday at the New York state Capitol in Albany to denounce Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s recent decision to extend the state’s near-total shutdown through May 15.
“Nobody disagrees that we want to get out of this situation,” Cuomo said Monday. “Nobody. You don’t need protests to convince anyone in this country that we have to get back to work, and we have to get the economy going, and we have to get out of our homes. Nobody.”
One sizable protest Monday took place in Pennsylvania, as police estimated about 700 people showed up at the Statehouse in Harrisburg to protest Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s shutdown directives. Wolf has taken fire from Republican lawmakers and business owners for imposing a system that required businesses to apply for a waiver to be labeled as essential and be able to stay open. The majority of the waiver applications were rejected.
Reporters at the scene of Blaine House, the governor’s mansion in Augusta, Maine, indicated that there were “several hundred” protesters on the scene Monday rallying against the restrictions imposed by Democratic Gov. Janet Mills. That protest was organized by a Republican lawmaker, according to news reports out of the state.
In New Hampshire, a protest took place Saturday as about 250 people aired their opposition to Republican Gov. Chris Sununu’s decision to shut down much of the state’s economy.
Among the Granite State protesters were a pair of former state representatives, Andrew Manuse and J.R. Hoell, who said they had collected more than 3,700 signatures on a petition demanding that Sununu reopen the state.
A reporter with CNN said Monday morning that Facebook has been in communication with several governors and removed information about some events from its social media platform. In a statement to FOX Business, a spokesperson said “[u]nless government prohibits the event during this time, we allow it to be organized on Facebook,” a Facebook spokesperson said. “For this same reason, events that defy government’s guidance on social distancing aren’t allowed on Facebook.”
President Donald Trump, while not openly advocating for governors to remove restrictions, has appeared supportive of efforts to push open the economic doors. He sent a trio of tweets Friday calling on the “liberation” of Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia. The administration also announced Thursday a three-phase plan for states to follow to reopen the economy once certain bench marks are met.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Trump’s lead medical voice in the COVID-19 response, told Good Morning America on Monday that the protests are counterproductive, adding that loosening restrictions too quickly would risk new spikes in cases across the country and lead to renewed shutdowns.
“Unless we get this thing under control, the real recovery economically is not going to happen,” he said. “If you jump the gun and go into a situation where you have a big spike, you’re gonna set yourself back. So as painful as it is to go by the careful guidelines of gradually phasing into a reopening, it’s going to backfire.”
Cole Lauterbach is a reporter for The Center Square