Story at a glance
- Thousands protested outside Michigan’s state capital to show their opposition to the state’s stay-at-home orders.
- Similar smaller protests took place in Ohio and North Carolina, and more events are expected in several other states.
- The protests have gained support from right-wing media figures and groups.
Protests against stay-at-home orders that health experts and lawmakers say are needed to stop the spread of the coronavirus and save lives are happening across the country, with more planned in the coming days.
On Wednesday, thousands of protesters organized by the Michigan Conservative Committee and the Michigan Freedom Fund descended on the state capital to demonstrate against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) stay-at-home executive order, demanding Whitmer lift the restrictions and reopen the state’s nonessential businesses on May 1.
“[The protesters] are upset the governor is thinking in terms of what jobs are ‘essential or ‘non-essential,’ instead of considering whether a job can be done safely. If workers are able to use proper social distancing practices on the job, we believe they should be able to earn a living,” Michigan House Republicans said in a tweet.
Similar smaller protests have occurred outside the Ohio statehouse in Columbus; in Raleigh, North Carolina; Kentucky; Utah; Wyoming and New York, with more events scheduled in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Texas, Oregon, Idaho and Washington state, according to NBC News.
The restrictions have sparked a tense debate over government regulation and personal liberty, prompting prominent figures on the right, including Fox News, talk show host Rush Limbaugh and rightwing website the Gateway Pundit to throw their support behind such demonstrations.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW RIGHT NOW ABOUT CORONAVIRUS IN AMERICA
Host of the Ingraham Angle on Fox News, Laura Ingraham, praised the Michigan protest in a tweet saying “time to get your freedom back” and posted with a video of protesters making their way to the demonstration in Lansing. Tucker Carlson of Fox News described Whitmer’s actions as “petty authoritarianism.”
Limbaugh also applauded the protesters, saying Democrats like Whitmer are “being coached by Nancy Pelosi and [Chuck] Schumer to push this harder than they might normally feel is appropriate.”
While social distancing and stay-at-home restrictions have closed nonessential businesses, causing the economy to come to a near standstill, health experts have warned that loosening measures too soon could further exacerbate an outbreak that has infected more than 670,000 people in the U.S. and left more than 33,000 dead. Several governors across the country have extended such measures.
READ OUR BREAKING NEWS ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC