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AFP reported that hundreds protested Saturday in cities across America against coronavirus-related lockdowns -- with encouragement from President Donald Trump -- as resentment grows against the crippling economic cost of confinement.
An estimated 400 people gathered under a cold rain in Concord, New Hampshire -- many on foot while others remained in their cars -- to send a message that extended quarantines were not necessary in a state with relatively few confirmed cases of COVID-19.
The crowd included several armed men wearing military-style uniforms, with their faces covered.
In Texas, more than 250 people rallied outside the State Capitol in Austin, including far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, founder of the Infowars site, who rolled up in a tank-like truck.
"It's time to reopen Texas, it's time to let people work, it's time for them to let voluntary interaction and good sense rule the day, not government force," said Justin Greiss, an activist with Young Americans for Liberty.
Stay-at-home mother Amira Abuzeid added: "I'm not a doctor but I'm an intelligent person who can do math and it looks like at the end of the day, these numbers are not that worrisome."
Few if any observed social distancing recommendations.
Demonstrators outside Maryland's colonial-era statehouse in Annapolis stayed in their cars but waved signs with messages like "Poverty kills too."
Dolores, a hairdresser, told AFP she is not eligible for unemployment because she is a business owner, not an employee.
"I need to save my business. I need to work to live. Otherwise I will die," she said.
Other demonstrations took place across the country in cities such as Columbus, Ohio and San Diego, California, as well as the states of Indiana, Nevada and Wisconsin.
Few practiced social distancing but many of the protesters waved American flags.
- 'Live Free or Die' -
Protesters have drawn encouragement in certain Democratic-led states from tweets by Trump, who has said he favors a quick return to normal, though protests have also taken place in Republican-led states like New Hampshire and Texas.
The US has seen more coronavirus cases and deaths than any other country in the world -- with more than 734,000 confirmed infections and 38,800 fatalities as of Saturday evening.
Their common demand was that the stay-at-home order for the state of 1.3 million people be called off before its scheduled May 4 end date.
Others, amid a sea of American flags, chanted the state's Revolutionary War-era slogan, "Live Free or Die."
|Some Americans haven’t taken kindly to the lockdown measures (Picture: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/REX)|
As of early Friday, New Hampshire had reported 1,287 confirmed coronavirus cases and 37 deaths.
- 'Free country' -
"All over the country, a lot of people are saying, 'We will do our part, but at the same time, this is supposed to be a free country,'" Murphy said.
"When that gets transgressed, people start to say, 'Wait a minute, this is wrong.'"
Most Americans -- by a two-to-one margin -- actually worry about virus restrictions being lifted too soon, not too late, a recent Pew survey found.
But demonstrators found encouragement Friday from the president, who in a series of tweets called to "LIBERATE" Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia -- all states with Democratic governors -- from stay-at-home orders.
There have been groups demonstrating in the likes of Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Utah and Virginia.
Trump has repeatedly called for the earliest possible return to normality as virus-related closings have had a crushing impact on American workers and businesses.
"I really think some of the governors have gotten carried away," Trump said at a White House news conference on Saturday.
He welcomed the reopening of some businesses in Texas and Vermont on Monday "while still requiring appropriate social distancing precautions."
The largest protest against stay-at-home rules so far took place Wednesday in the Michigan capital of Lansing, which drew some 3,000 people.
Why have there been protests against lockdown in the US?
it was said on metro.com.uk that demonstrators calling for a reversal of ongoing lockdowns that have seen thousands of businesses close and more than 20 million Americans out of work.
Quarantine is when you restrict movement of sick people. Tyranny is when you restrict the movement of healthy people,’ Meshawn Maddock, one Michigan group’s organiser, told Fox News. This week, President Donald Trump called on three states, Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia – all of which have Democrat governors – to ‘liberate’ themselves from the lockdown measures in place there.
The second amendment refers to ‘right of the people to keep and bear arms’ as written in the United States Constitution, and Trump’s mention of it here appears to reference Governor Ralph Northam’s crackdown on gun ownership rights in Virginia. Meanwhile the President’s call to action for Michigan came even though the state has been one of the worst-hit by Covid-19 with more than 29,000 confirmed cases and 2,000 deaths as of Friday afternoon.
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