Protesters hit the streets to demand Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker streamline the reopening of non-essential businesses, delayed due to the lack of progress in slowing down the spread of Covid-19.
Scores of demonstrators filled the streets around the Massachusetts State House in Boston on Monday for what event organizers dubbed a “Liberty Rally,” voicing outrage over Baker’s decision to extend the state’s lockdown another two weeks to May 18, further putting off the reopening of nonessential businesses as hundreds of thousands of residents file for unemployment.
“Let my people go”, “We are essential workers” are some of the signs held by protestors outside of the Massachusetts State House. https://t.co/p6j0L5nf2e
— Malini Basu (@WFXTMalini) May 4, 2020
Protests against Massachusetts’ govt mandated lockdown…
— Liz Wheeler (@Liz_Wheeler) May 4, 2020
Hoisting banners and signs with slogans such as “All jobs are essential” and “Open business, close Baker,” the protesters were corralled by police on opposite ends of the main road near the state house to keep traffic flowing, however a section of the street was eventually closed down for the rally.
Angry protesters were seen gathered at the front steps of the State House in Boston on Monday raising their fists, waving American Flags, and sporting Trump 2020 hats while chanting ‘End Lockdown’
Dissenters were heard chanting ‘Tyranny is not leadership’ and ‘End shutdown’.
One 61-year-old man said he came to Boston on his motorcycle from Cape Cod to be a part of the protest with his wife.
‘We should be able to decide whether or not we want to work, social distance, or wear a mask. I think people are going to get hooked on government pay – it is government overreach,’ he said to the Boston Globe.
— Justin Dougherty (@DoughertyJC) May 4, 2020
End the Lockdown Protest outside Massachusetts State House today is absolutely amazing!!! pic.twitter.com/kzJG6cwH4o
— EasternRider12 (@EasternRider12) May 5, 2020
The event was organized by conservative activists, namely radio host Jeffrey Kuhner, who addressed the crowd warning that “America is committing national suicide” with the lockdown measures, which have thrown tens of millions of citizens out of work across dozens of states.
Protesters stormed the State House and took over Beacon Street, defying lockdown orders and Massachusetts’ new law that starts Wednesday enforcing that everyone wear a mask in public.
”I see churches closed, I see an economic collapse, thousands of businesses bankrupt and shuttered – all of this for a lousy virus? For a contagious flu at the absolute worse? This is not a pandemic.”
Reporters covering the rally noted that few of the demonstrators wore masks or practiced social distancing, a fact that drew criticism from some netizens, who said the protesters were putting others at risk. A state-wide mask requirement will take effect on Wednesday, mandating that all residents wear face coverings while in public, including at outdoor parks.
A sign saying ‘Tyranny is Spreading Faster than COVID-19’ was pictured above a crowd of protesters at the Monday rally.
Protesters also carried signs that said ‘End Shutdown’ in defiance of Gov. Charlie Baker’s lockdown orders in place through May 18 where nonessential businesses will be kept closed and gatherings of over 10 people are banned.
More from the protest at the State House. The vast majority aren’t distancing or wearing masks, saying it’s their right to decide on whether to wear one. Many here are Trump supporters, but are critical of Republican @MassGovernor’s handling of #COVIDー19 ourbreak. #wcvb pic.twitter.com/4QrGG7wSsN
— Peter Eliopoulos (@petereliopoulos) May 4, 2020
Governor Baker, meanwhile, insists the state is taking a scientific and data-driven approach to reopening, arguing that “you need to see downward trends in a number of key indices associated with this virus for some period of time before you can actually reopen,” echoing federal guidelines on lifting the lockdowns. The state has confirmed nearly 4,100 fatalities and over 69,000 cases of the illness – around 1,000 on Monday alone – putting it behind only New Jersey and New York.
Massachusetts joins a long line of states where residents have grown wary of the sweeping quarantine measures, with similar protests erupting in Michigan, California, Wisconsin, Texas, Georgia, Maryland, Ohio, Virginia, Minnesota, among others. The angry demonstrations come after wide swaths of the US economy were shut down under the lockdowns, prompting some 30 million Americans to file for unemployment benefits since mid March.
Massachusetts is a part of a coalition of Northeastern states including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Rhode Island to coordinate the reopening of the economy.