Protesters are planning a “Freedom Rally” in Wisconsin following the governor’s extension of a stay-at-home order, marking the latest public backlash to state efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The demonstration, led by ReOpen Wisconsin and Wisconsinites Against Excessive Quarantine, is scheduled for April 24, the day the governor's initial order was slated to expire.
"Government mandating sick people to stay home is called quarantine. However, the government mandating healthy citizens to stay home, forcing businesses and churches to close is called tyranny," ReOpen Wisconsin said in a statement to a local NBC affiliate. "It is not sustainable to continue this lockdown as the economic and societal consequences will be irreversible.”
Gov. Tony Evers (D) on Thursday extended his stay-at-home order until May 26, closing schools for the rest of the academic year while also relaxing some provisions from the previous order.
The upcoming demonstration comes on the heels of a similar rally held Wednesday in Lansing, Mich., where dozens of protesters swarmed the statehouse to demand an end to the state’s stay-at-home order.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) on Thursday said the protests were the “kind of irresponsible action that puts us in this situation where we might have to actually think about extending stay-at-home orders, which is supposedly what they are protesting."
That protest was led by the Michigan Conservative Coalition and supported by conservative lawmakers.
“When you see a political rally — that’s what it was yesterday — a political rally where people aren’t wearing masks and they’re in close quarters and they're touching one another, you know that that’s precisely what makes this kind of disease drag out and expose more people," Whitmer said Thursday.
Madison Marie, one of the Wisconsin rally organizers, told Newsweek that social distancing could still be observed at the protest, but admits it could be difficult.
"People are responsible for their own health, but we ask that they use common sense and if they are sick we ask that they stay home," Marie said. "If they feel safer wearing a mask or gloves, they are free to do so.”