By Joycelin Wong
As more and more states begin to reopen amid the Coronavirus pandemic, crowds of anti-lockdown protestors across the country have taken to the streets to revolt against the current restrictions enforced by state governments. While the majority of Americans are aware of the potential dangers of reopening the country too early, a vocal group of demonstrators believe that the virus isn’t as dangerous as it’s made out to be and that professionals and government officials are lying.
Defying the stay-at-home orders, mandatory face mask requirements and social distancing rules, many of these protestors have shared their frustration with their states’ slow reopening processes. Expressing their concerns about haircuts, small businesses, and fake news, these primarily right-winged, conservative protestors have voiced their support for all functions of society to return to normal. While carrying American flags, weapons, and posters, these anti-lockdown protestors are pushing government officials to quickly roll back these mandated orders.
Despite the continued increase in COVID-19 cases in many states, these protests have illustrated the increasing frustration, anxiety and anger that people are experiencing as a result of being quarantined at home. Though these protestors claim to be peacefully practicing their civil liberties, many of these crowds have turned belligerent.
Closer to home, News 12 reporter Kevin Vesey reported on a reopening rally in Commack, New York, that turned hostile. As he was interviewing people about why they were protesting, he was met with aggressive verbal attacks. In a Twitter post reflecting on his experience with the demonstrators, Vesey asserted, “I’ll probably never forget what happened today. I was insulted. I was berated. I was practically chased by people who refused to wear masks in the middle of a pandemic. All the while, I was there to tell THEIR story.” Clips of the segment show protestors chanting “fake news is not essential” and calling Vesey “disgusting” as well as the “enemy of the people.” Other protestors also shouted “You are the virus.” Despite the harassment he experienced, Vesey promised to continue to report in an “unbiased way.”
Similar anti-lockdown protests have also emerged in other states like Michigan and North Carolina. Armed protestors caught backlash for storming the Capitol in Lansing, Michigan. According to Newsweek, on the same day, the number of Coronavirus cases increased by over 1,000. Meanwhile, in North Carolina, which is already on Phase One of its reopening strategy, protestors demanded a modified stay-at-home order that would enable more businesses to open and people to go on some nonessential trips. Both rallies were examples of an attempt to intimidate state officials to reopen. Demonstrations have also appeared in Texas, Maryland, California, and Washington, to name a few.
President Trump has also voiced his support for many of these demonstrations. He has encouraged many more states to reopen, hoping to stimulate the economy. Emphasizing the need to “liberate” these states, President Trump has empowered people to defy local Coronavirus restrictions.
As images of impassioned protestors make headlines, powerful pictures of surgeons, nurses, doctors, and other healthcare professionals blocking cars of protestors have also taken over social media. These healthcare professionals have taken to the streets to counterprotest the anti-lockdown protests. Many of these doctors and nurses have verbalized their frustration with the fact that people are gathering to resist the one thing that experts are exclaiming will mitigate and defeat the virus: staying home. The striking photos of healthcare workers, wearing scrubs and protective face masks, facing off with these protestors serve as a reminder that human lives are at stake.
Throughout the course of the pandemic, we have been actively warned by professionals about a potential second wave. Yet these protesters living in opposition refuse to heed warnings. This virus’s uncanny resemblance to the Spanish Flu serves as a reminder to learn from the past and not make the same mistakes. Although everyone is eager to return to normalcy, it is important for all of us to take the vital steps that would make this possible. By listening to experts, following rules, and staying at home, society will soon be able to reopen.