Encouraged by Trump, anti-containment protests multiply

Hundreds of people gathered in Concord, New Hampshire, called for an end to the confinement on April 18.
Hundreds of people gathered in Concord, New Hampshire, called for an end to the confinement on April 18. JOSEPH PREZIOSO / AFP

They were about 400 to demonstrate, on foot or from their car, in front of the Parliament of Concord, capital of the small state of New Hampshire (1.3 million inhabitants), relatively spared from the epidemic with 1,287 confirmed cases and 37 dead of the coronavirus, Friday April 17. Republican Governor Chris Sununu ordered confinement there until at least May 4.

"The numbers lie" or "Reopen the N.H.", proclaimed certain placards brandished by the demonstrators, who seemed to ignore the distancing instructions given by the authorities. Among them were militia-style armed and hooded men. "People are ready to do the right thing", But "The numbers don't justify the draconian containment measures we have in New Hampshire"Skip Murphy, 63, who presented himself as a voter for Donald Trump, was told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

In Annapolis, the capital of Maryland, protesters stayed in their cars, and the AFP counted around 200 marching in front of the local parliament. "Poverty also kills"said a sign, "I will not obey illegal decrees"said another. In Austin, the capital of Texas, there were about 250 of them, there too little concerned with the rules of distancing. Their slogans denounced in particular "Economic collapse" precipitated by the cessation of all activities not "Essential".

Explosion in the number of unemployed

Confinement has exploded the number of unemployed people across the country (in just one month, 22 million Americans have registered as unemployed), and deprived many people of all income. Alex Jones, founder of the far-right conspiracy site InfoWars, which initiated the demonstration, arrived in a tank-like pickup truck, cheering for the crowd.

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If these rallies seemed to bring together many supporters of Donald Trump, some participants stressed that their motivations were primarily economic. Dolores, a hairdresser who protested in Annapolis, said she can no longer work or receive government assistance because she is an employer and not employed. "I have to save my things, I have to work to live, otherwise I will die", she told AFP.

"We have constitutional rights in the United States", said Amira Abuzeid, a stay-at-home mom in Austin, who adds:

"People have the right to work, they have the right to eat, they have the right to assemble freely, and these rights cannot be taken away on the basis of faulty science (…) I am not a doctor but I can calculate, and finally the figures are not so worrying ".

Parades scarce, but increasing

Although the demonstrators are generally few, such parades have multiplied in recent days in the United States, the country most affected by the coronavirus with more than 715,000 cases and 37,000 deaths. The largest to date took place on Wednesday in Lansing, the capital of Michigan, where some 3,000 people have vilified the confinement of Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

President Trump, who does not hide his haste to "Reopen" the economy of the country while leaving the governors of each state to decide when and how to lift the restrictions, called on Friday to "Release" containment three states managed by democratic governors: Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia. On Saturday, in his daily press briefing, the American president also seemed to justify the demonstrations, believing that "Some governors had gone too far".

The governor of New York, the most affected by the epidemic with more than 236,000 confirmed cases and a containment order in force at least until May 15 – despite a number of daily deaths down – recognized Saturday that some states, less affected, could adopt economic recovery strategies faster than his own.

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"Figures dictate strategies"said Governor Andrew Cuomo during a press briefing. But he implicitly criticized the attitude of Donald Trump and some Republican officials who criticize the prolonged confinement by Democratic governors. Containment is "Emotionally difficult, and economically disastrous", he said. But "How can the situation get worse, and get worse quickly?" If you politicize all this emotion. We can't afford it, " he hammered.

The World with AFP


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