Protesters in Texas, other states demand end to lockdowns day after Trump’s ‘LIBERATE’ tweets
By Phil McCausland
Protesters demanding an end to shutdown orders gathered in streets and outside several states’ capitol buildings on Saturday, a day after President Donald Trump posted a series of tweets calling for demonstrators to “LIBERATE” certain states.
Some of the demonstrators brandished signs with phrases like, “This is tyranny, not quarantine” and “Open now!”
In Texas, the main protest outside the statehouse in Austin was supported by Alex Jones, the personality behind InfoWars, a website widely criticized for pushing conspiracy theories. Some who gathered chanted, “Let us work, let us work.”
On Friday, Trump tweeted “LIBERATE MINNESOTA,” and then, “LIBERATE MICHIGAN” and “LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!”
He later defended the posts, saying that “elements” of some state regulations were “just too tough.”
The president’s encouragement of various state protests appeared to run in the face of his announcement Thursday that he would offer guidelines for reopening the country, but would leave specific plans up to governors.
Since states began to enact stay-at-home orders to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, protest groups have popped up with arguments reminiscent of the Tea Party that the lockdown measures violate their personal liberty.
Demonstrators are often seen waving “Don’t Tread on Me” flags and wearing “Make America Great Again” hats.
Many seem concerned with their inability to work due to business closures, a worry spreading across the country as unemployment claims rose to 22 million in one month.
Vice President Mike Pence said in a PBS NewsHour interview on Friday that the point of the White House guidelines released this week was to help states prepare to reopen “in an orderly and safe way.”
“The guidelines that were issued yesterday were all about equipping our governors and their health officials with our very best recommendations,” Pence said, “all the while assuring all of their citizens and the American people that we will continue to partner with our states to make sure that they have the equipment, the medical supplies and the testing to enter into that reopening plan in an orderly and safe way.”