A large crowd of protesters gathered outside the Massachusetts State House on Monday afternoon calling on Gov. Charlie Baker to reopen the economy.
Dubbed the “Liberty Rally,” the event was planned to take place if Baker didn’t reopen nonessential businesses on May 1. Baker’s business order, along with his stay-at-home advisory, was initially set to be lifted on May 4 but was extended last week to May 18, as efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus continue. The protest was promoted by Jeffrey Kuhner, a conservative radio host, and on the website for “Super Happy Fun America,” which organized the controversial “Straight Pride Parade” in Boston last year.
It was slated to begin at 2 p.m. “to demand that the Governor and his minions let the people get back to work,” according to its website.
When asked for comment, Baker’s office pointed to his response to a question about the protest Monday. In responding to the question, the governor noted that the decision to close businesses was based on science, and that his administration knew there would be economic, and other, consequences.
“We do believe and buy into the guidance that we’ve gotten from experts in the field 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, and that’s the reason why we created the reopening task force, and it’s why we’ve spent so much time working with our colleagues in the health care community to develop a set of indices that we report on every single day,” he said. “And as I said in my remarks, you know, after a really long time of not seeing much positive traction at all with regard to those measures, in the course of the past few days, we’ve actually started to see some positive downward trends.”
As of Monday, Massachusetts had seen 69,087 COVID-19 cases and 4,090 deaths related to the disease.
Photos from the area show the group tightly packed together, appearing to ignore social distancing guidelines of standing 6 feet apart from others.
Note: Polls have shown vast majority of ppl back Baker’s actions/restrictions in pandemic pic.twitter.com/EBudEAZ9L0
— Matt Stout (@MattPStout) May 4, 2020
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
Video shows the protesters waving American flags and holding signs that read “End Shutdown,” among others. Many appeared to be wearing a mask or bandana, but many others had no face covering.
— Erin Tiernan (@ErinTiernan) May 4, 2020