CHICAGO — Protesters assembled outside the Thompson Center Friday to demand that Gov. JB Pritzker lift his coronavirus restrictions, and reopen the state’s economy.
A group called Freedom Movement USA planned a day-long rally featuring a full slate of speakers from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. This same group staged a rally about a week ago to push for a full reopening of Illinois. The rally fell on the same day the governor’s new executive order took effect extending the stay-at-home orders until May 30.
Activists plan to specifically demand that Pritzker announce some kind of clear plan to reopen the state economy and get people back to work.
Some protesters said the stay-at-home orders have gone beyond helping Illinois residents and has turned into a political move.
“We’re now 41, 42 days into this, they’ve got no answers, no results and now they’re breaking their own policies and procedures,” Brendan Harris, Freedom Movement USA, said.
Counter protesters were also at the Thompson Center to call for the opposite — they think it’s too soon to open the state.
“It’s way too soon to be talking about reopening. I think its very callous position to take. I think instead we need to do a lot more to protect one another we need mutual aid and solidarity,” Rachel Cohen, Relief Not Reopening, said.
The rally came hours before the governor held his daily press conference. He said he defends the protesters’ right to freedom of speech, but said they’re wrong.
Stay-at-home orders have sparked protests all over the country in recent weeks.
Sister station WCIA reported that hundreds of protesters were also gathered at the state Capitol in Springfield.
On Thursday, armed protesters stormed the statehouse in Michigan as lawmakers met to consider further measures in response to COVID-19.
Critics claim the protest gatherings themselves are dangerous, but activists have argued that lockdown orders have gone too far.
A protest of the protest is also planned for Friday at the Thompson Center. According to the organizers of a drive-by rally, reopening Illinois too soon will only throw the hard work of weeks of social distancing out the window