(From the Carolina Journal, April 15, 2020)
Flags and signs. “Seven Nation Army” and “Smoke on the Water” blaring from speakers in the bed of a pickup. Car horns blaring and Harleys revving.
Dozens of people, including a handful of families, gathering across the street from the Legislative Building, openly violating Gov. Roy Cooper’s Executive Order 121 banning gatherings of more than 10 people.
The scene Tuesday, April 14, at the corner of Jones and Wilmington streets in Raleigh, marked the second public rally in the capital city related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The first was Saturday, as dozens of liberal activists surrounded the Executive Mansion, most in cars, a few on foot, demanding Cooper release inmates to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in N.C. jails and prisons. Several protesters were arrested after tossing wood pallets from their cars.
The Tuesday protest was about releasing everyone from government restrictions imposed to fight the virus, organized by a group called ReopenNC. Maybe 100 cars and half that many more people gathered in the parking lot to exercise their First Amendment rights.
The grass-roots outfit started as a private group on Facebook. It garnered more than 26,000 members in its first five days. At press time, more than 10,000 others were waiting to be added.
They say they represent small business owners and employees who’ve seen their livelihoods taken by coronavirus regulations. They argue Cooper’s executive orders violate their constitutional rights and threaten to destroy the economic hopes and dreams of millions of North Carolinians. [CONTINUE READING]