PHOTOS: Protesters Demand Ending Stay-at-Home Orders as North Carolina Coronavirus Deaths Rise

In this April 2020 photo, protestors who demanded, among other things, reopened schools, confront police doing traffic control in front of the NC State Archives before marching around downtown Raleigh. The state is reporting multiple coronavirus clusters since schools reopened with a mix of virtual and in-person classes in August. (Image for Cardinal & Pine by Grant Baldwin)

By Billy Ball, Grant Baldwin

April 22, 2020

Several hundred NC protesters, rebuffing social distancing and masks, demand an end to stay-At-home orders amid COVID-19 pandemic.

The “Reopen” movement touched down in North Carolina Tuesday, and it did so, characteristically, without social distancing and masks.

Reporters estimated more than 200 people attended Raleigh’s “Reopen NC” march in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which began in front of the NC State Archives and wound around downtown and the state Capitol. According to its Facebook page, the group counts 65,000 members.

Organizers did not respond to requests for interviews through their attorney, but they have been pressing state lawmakers and Gov. Roy Cooper to begin lifting social orders immediately, despite epidemiologists’ warnings to the contrary.

Associated Press reporter Gary D. Robertson wrote Tuesday that the protesters marched around Cooper’s house, the Executive Mansion in downtown Raleigh.

From Robertson’s report:

Cooper “needs to put his ear to the ground and he needs to look out his window and see how many people are here today gathering,” said Dee Park, 82, of Pinehurst a retired college professor, holding an American flag and unmoved by any health risk to gather. “It’s time to open our state again and let people get back to work and make a living.”

Cardinal & Pine contributor Grant Baldwin braved the crowds to take dozens of shots for us, and we’ve cherrypicked a few for you to peruse below.

The crowd, some of them donning pro-Trump and pro-Dan Forest gear, confronted Raleigh police handling traffic control.

They heard from Republicans like NC Congressman Dan Bishop, who spoke to reporters and rally-goers. Bishop wore a mask at first, but he eventually slipped it down to address reporters and protesters.

And protesters made their case that the economic pain of NC’s social distancing orders is, ultimately, greater than the pain of COVID-19’s spread through the population.

Meanwhile, state officials in Gov. Cooper’s office continued to express a need for prudence, with infections and deaths spreading across NC. One senior epidemiologist with the nonprofit RTI International told Cardinal & Pine Tuesday that lifting social distance rules now could be a danger to public health.

As The Associated Press reported Tuesday, the economic pressure in NC is feeding the protests.

From The AP:

But the burden of Cooper’s orders allowing only essential business to open and other restrictions nationwide due to the new coronavirus keeps weighing many down. The state unemployment benefit office said it’s now received 689,000 initial claims since mid-March. And governors of some surrounding states — Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina — announced on Monday plans to reopen some businesses soon. Similar demonstrations have been held across the country.

“Right now I’m choosing between to pay apartment rent … or a car payment and it’s been a disaster,” said Renay Perrell, 27, of Walkertown, a massage therapist out of work for weeks. Accompanied by her dog, Perrell said he wants Cooper to “understand that he doesn’t get to dictate what’s essential.”

Later this week, Cooper’s office is expected to announce details on their plans for lifting some restrictions. Stay tuned to Cardinal & Pine for updates.

A child holds his ears as parents yell into a bullhorn at a downtown Raleigh protest demanding the statewide Stay At Home order be lifted<br>
450 500 protesters associated with ReOpen NC marched around the NC State Archives Governors Mansion and NC State Capitol Building in downtown Raleigh demanding the Governor lift the statewide Stay At Home order
Protestors demanding the statewide Stay At Home order be lifted gathered in front of the NC State Archives before marching around downtown Raleigh
Protestors confront police doing traffic control in front of the NC State Archives before marching around downtown Raleigh
Protestors confront police doing traffic control in front of the NC State Archives before marching around downtown Raleigh
450 500 protesters associated with ReOpen NC marched around the NC State Archives Governors Mansion and NC State Capitol Building in downtown Raleigh demanding the Governor lift the statewide Stay At Home order
US Representative Dan Bishop R NC 9th District interacts with protestors and speaks with media at a protest march in downtown Raleigh demanding the statewide Stay At Home order be lifted
US Representative Dan Bishop R NC 9th District interacts with protestors and speaks with media at a protest march in downtown Raleigh demanding the statewide Stay At Home order be lifted
A few counter protestors were in attendance at a downtown Raleigh protest expressing that the statewide Stay At Home order would save lives and should remain in place
A few counter protestors were in attendance at a downtown Raleigh protest expressing that the statewide Stay At Home order would save lives and should remain in place
450 500 protesters associated with ReOpen NC marched around the NC State Archives Governors Mansion and NC State Capitol Building in downtown Raleigh demanding the Governor lift the statewide Stay At Home order
450 500 protesters associated with ReOpen NC marched around the NC State Archives Governors Mansion and NC State Capitol Building in downtown Raleigh demanding the Governor lift the statewide Stay At Home order

Authors

  • Billy Ball

    Billy Ball is Cardinal & Pine's senior community editor. He’s covered local, state and national politics, government, education, criminal justice, the environment and immigration in North Carolina for almost two decades, winning state, regional and national awards for his reporting and commentary.

  • Grant Baldwin
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