Friday’s in-person protests at the capitol building saw hundreds turn out to protest Governor Evers’ safer at home extension.
The protesters said that, by keeping the state closed, Governor Evers is furthering the state’s economic woes. Protesters also argued that the governor was overstepping his constitutional authority.
Attendees also pointed to a lack of cases in Wisconsin’s rural regions. Many argued that the state’s rural areas should not face the same restrictions as Dane and Milwaukee county, where half of the state’s cases have occurred.
The protest came shortly after state Republican leaders filed suit against Evers over the extension, also claiming the order extends beyond “the executive branch’s statutory powers.”
But over the weekend, thousands showed up to a virtual counter-protest demonstrating support for Wisconsin staying safer-at-home.
An estimated 3,700 attended the Facebook event, and an earlier virtual rally on Friday drew a digital crowd of 9300 attendees, according to organizers.
The counter-protests were in support of Governor Evers’ Safer-at-Home extension. The order, which was slated to end this past Friday, was extended until May 26th to follow federal reopening guidelines.
On the Facebook page for the virtual rally, attendees shared why they supported Evers’ extension.
“I’m here because this isn’t about politics. This is about everyone and what we can do to help each other,” wrote one attendee.
“It is frustrating and terrifying to watch people act carelessly, selfishly, and stupidly,” said another.
Princess Vele is a Registered Nurse and participant in the virtual Safer-at-Home protests. She says everyone is feeling the pressures of the pandemic.
“Everybody wants to get out. Everybody wants to be back in the community. Everybody’s mental health is suffering. Everybody is wanting to go to work and be part of society and be part of the social system, and it’s hard on everybody. It’s not just hard on those people that are being too impatient,” she says. “Stand behind me, stand next to me, or stand with me, but do not stand in front of me protesting to open too soon. We are safer at home.”
Lannia Stenz, another virtual protester, says that those advocating for reopening are prioritizing their needs over those of the community.
“I think it’s important for our community to recognize that there are countless people in our cities and towns that would be extremely vulnerable to COVID-19. The more we’re out in the community and interacting with each other, the greater the risk is for those who are most vulnerable,” she says. “For those of us who believe in the safer-at-home order and want to make sure that the most vulnerable are taken care of, we want to make sure our voices are heard too.”
Karen Andro is the director of Hope’s Home Ministries in Madison, a food pantry and homelessness service. Andro was a participant in the virtual protest. She says reopening would negatively impact the city’s homeless community.
“When you use your voice and share about your rights, please give some thought and some consideration to how that may affect others that may be suffering in a different way that is more traumatic,” she says. “When somebody loses hope, when somebody gets to a point of losing so much, for instance their home, and then feeling unsafe and getting ill, it really doesn’t take a whole lot to lose the will to survive and live and feel valued.”
(Feature image c/o Wisconsin SEIU)