April 30, 2020
The First Amendment declares, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” In several US states, protesters claim that stay at home laws are violating their First Amendment. The protests started in Michigan, where the governor imposed strict rules demanding residents of Michigan to stay home. On April 23, citizens of Michigan began a rebellion and protested outside the governor’s house, they called it “Operation Queen’s Castle.”
Then on Thursday, April 15 more protesters participated in the “Operation Gridlock” protest where they blocked up streets around the capitol of Michigan, Lansing. Protectors blocked traffic and at some point ambulances couldn’t get into their hospital entrances. “We want to open Michigan… We want to let our fishermen fish. We want to let our farmers farm,” protester Rob Curtis stated. On Friday, April 24, Whitmer signed an executive order to stay at home until May 15, “The new executive order will allow some workers who perform lower-risk activities to go back on the job,” explained Whitmer. “While everyone has the right to gather and express their opinions, today’s protest sends exactly the opposite message that nurses and healthcare professionals are trying to get across,” vocalized Michigan Nurses Association. In Michigan, a “willful violation” of governor Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-home order is considered a misdemeanor offense, the state health department established a fine of up to $1,000 for violators and a licensing review for businesses that do not adhere to the temporary rules.
“I think that people have the right to protest and express how they feel but I think they also have to realize that those temporary laws are in place to keep everyone safe. the more people stay in, the faster this whole thing will end and people will be able to enjoy their summer,” expressed junior Sophie Talarico.
After the first protest against Covid-19 in Michigan, other states started protesting. A picture of a protester in Colorado holding a sign in front of a healthcare worker with the three words, “Land of the free,” has been seen nationwide. “Land of the free, go to China if you want communism,” screams the middle-aged lady to the nurse counter-protesting. A pro-gun Iowa family organized protests in Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and New York. They used state-specific Facebook group pages with a total of over 200,000 followers. One of the Facebook group descriptions is: “It’s time to OPEN OUR STATE and STOP Governors’ Excessive Quarantine! Politicians are on a power trip, controlling our lives, destroying our businesses, passing laws behind the cover of darkness and forcing us to hand over our freedoms and our livelihood!” When asked if the Iowan Dorr family is planning to protest in Iowa Aaron Dorr explained, “we’ll see what comes of this.” So far since April 24, 2020, there have been protests in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Utah and Virginia.
Senior Amin Cody explained, “I highly disagree with [protesting] and the reason being is because they are just causing way more problems than it already is. People should stay home and be safe instead of protesting outside. I can see the people’s point of view also but it’s more of a disagreement for me. I think it’s best for people to stay at home and that’s what they should be doing.”
Everyone has been impacted one way or another by the coronavirus. Some people cannot stand the fact that they are being obligated to stay inside. Many people started protesting against stay at home orders because they want to be able to work again or don’t want the US economy to go downhill. All in all, according to scientific research Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse, a Mayo Clinic infectious diseases expert, explained, “The things we’re asking people to do are not easy. They are definitely disruptive, they’re definitely challenging, but they do have evidence to show that they work when implemented broadly, widely and followed by everyone.” Waukee senior citizen Mohammed Alzanganee stated, “I understand that some people are healthy enough to fight the Virus, but for older people like me it puts me at risk of being infected. I tell my family to stay home for me.”
At the time of writing and posting this article (12:00 4/30) another protest has started in Lansing, Michigan with over one hundred protestors, who are not following social distancing rules. The protesters gathered in a clumped group inside the capitol demanding to be let in the House Chambers, where lawmakers are debating a 28 state of emergency extension governor Gretchen Whitmer asked for. At the moment, in America, it seems that the number of deaths and infections does not cease some people from protesting against quarantine.