2,500 people concourse on Washington state capitol to protest stay-at-home orders
An estimated 2,500 people rallied at the Washington state capitol on Sunday to protest Democratic Governor Jay Inslee's stay-at-home order to limit the spread of coronavirus thus, defying a ban on gatherings of 50 or more people.
Despite a plea from rally organizers to wear face coverings or masks as recommended by public health authorities, many did not.
Police estimated the crowd at 2,500, making it one of the most massive protests in U.S. states against lockdowns over the past week. In Olympia, hundreds gathered in close quarters on the steps of the capitol building and around a fountain, contravening state and federal health guidelines during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
"Shutting down businesses by picking winners and losers in which there are essential and non-essential are violations of the state and federal constitution," rally organizer Tyler Miller, 39, an engineer from Bremerton, Washington, and a Republican precinct officer, told Reuters.
Protesters were driving cars to the capital of the state, hanging horns and blocking the road and healthcare workers in scrubs.
"There is no question whatsoever the defence of liberty means risking all hazards", Miller said, paraphrasing a John Adams quote. "The American Revolution was fought at the height of the smallpox epidemic. Our founders were very aware of these sorts of risks."
Crowds remained on the capitol grounds after the scheduled finish of the rally, but Washington state police did not issue any citations, said spokesman Chris Loftis.
Trump on Friday tweeted support for similar protests in Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia to "liberate" them from social distancing rules.
While Miller stopped short of describing his rally as an effort to liberate Washington, he said, "It gives me comfort that he's got my back."
Earlier on Sunday, Inslee said state Republican lawmakers were supporting the rebellion against his social-distancing rules that have largely shut down the economy.
"Comments in the news by some Republican legislators calling for 'open rebellion,' claiming a 'deep state' plot and other radical statements are irresponsible and could needlessly lead to more people getting sick," Inslee, a Democrat, said in a statement.
"I support free speech. But crowd counts or speeches won't determine our course. This isn't about politics. It can only be about doing what is best for the health of all Washingtonians."
Democratic Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia told CNN the idea there were enough tests was "delusional".
"Our president has been unable to deliver on tests. Now he has chosen to focus on protests," Northam told CNN's "State of the Union".
On Sunday, there were 507 new deaths from COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, down from a high of more than 700 a day.
More photos on the protest:
image of people protesting in Washington
A crowd of up to 2500 gathered thus, defying the social distancing order
Protesters at the Washington DC capitol holding flags and placades that said, "Liberate Washington", "Fake news"
A cross-sectional view of the protestants at the Washington DC capitol
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