REOPEN [Insert Your County Here]: Emerging Call from Local Grassroots for Reopening Communities

RALEIGH – After membership in a statewide Facebook group named ‘Reopen NC’ took off like a rocket, they made a media splash and organized their first protest, resulting in even more focus on their call to release the state from Governor Roy Cooper’s Stay-at-Home orders that have closed businesses and left local economies in devastating states of uncertainty. The protest only featured a few dozen participants, but it was shut down for violating the very order they were protesting. “Protesting,” the Raleigh Police Department said, “is a non-essential activity.”

Seeing all of this, you might have wondered, is there a group for my community? That’s what went through Cheryl Pigott’s mind. There wasn’t; so she started one.

A small-business owner in Morehead City, Pigott’s business has struggled under the governor’s Stay-at-Home order. She sees the toll the order has been taking on businesses through out the Carteret County, and has trouble reconciling its impact with that of COVID-19.

A coastal and rural county that’s a popular tourist destination for families and fishers (The Crystal Coast), Carteret County has had a small number of coronavirus cases, no new infections in recent days, and the local hospital has more than the usual number of empty beds. Carteret County is also entering what should be the start of the money-making season for area business owners.

Pigott, in solidarity with other bipartisan efforts calling on the governor to lift the Stay-at-Home order, launched ReOpen Carteret County. And it’s growing.

I just wanted to organize a group to raise our voices, and motivate local municipal leaders to ask the governor to lift this order that’s hurting so many people,” said Pigott to First in Freedom Daily. “The original projections have not happened, fortunately, and the restrictions simply do not match the data for our community.

Meanwhile, the statewide order has suppressed business-owners and citizens in parts of the state that warrant no such emergency edicts. The abuse of authority maybe contagious as well, being that beach towns in Carteret County were cuffing kids and citations for surfing, and the Town of Beaufort literally barricaded itself off non-residents.

Over in western North Carolina, Swain County, with zero cases of COVID-19, there is a nightly curfew and the Sheriff is enforcing it. They have a federal lawsuit. Dare County has a blockade in place that’s earned it a federal lawsuit from property owners denied access to their properties. There are likely examples of overreach in most counties.

The transgressions are all enabled by a statewide Stay-at-Home order, which places an undue burden on citizens. That is especially the case for communities that do not share nearly the same risks as high-density population centers across the state.

Governor Roy Cooper has admitted the obvious need to open the state back up, but only in a overly cautious and incremental approach. That just won’t do for much of the Old North State. Beyond the constitutional conflicts calling into question our First in Freedom moniker, bipartisan communities of small-business owners in relatively unaffected counties have a strong argument for being released from the shutdown edicts NOW.

Does you county have a local ‘Reopen’ group? Why not? Maybe you should start one.

If there is any hope for citizens to get back to making a living sooner, rather than later (a.k.a. when Governor Cooper decides feels its safe for us to be free again), local grassroots have to make noise, organize, and enlist the support of local elected officials NOW. Whether it’s lobbying the governor to lift the orders, or getting all the authorities of a particular county to open back up despite them, it is incumbent upon us to take action.

Ashley Smith is taking that action with Reopen NC; Cheryl Pigott is taking that action with Reopen Carteret County; and, both leaders will be joined by many others in Raleigh to raise their voices next Tuesday, April 21. Will you?

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