Illustration for article titled I Call These People the Modern-Day Rosa Parks: Conservative Shelter-In-Place Protesters Really Think Theyre Civil Rights Activists
Photo: Protesters rally at the state capitol in Lansing, Mich., on Wednesday. Photo by Paul Sancya (AP Images)

Remember when Black Lives Matter protests were the scourge of the nation? How about when Colin Kaepernick started the trend of kneeling during the national anthem and conservative white America considered it a full-on assault against any and everyone who ever served in the U.S. military? Well, it turns out—and this will shock and surprise black people all over the country, I’m sure—that civil unrest was never the issue so long as people aren’t rising up against systemic racism and police brutality. Civil disobedience in the name of prioritizing a stabilized economy over the preservation of life, on the other hand, is perfectly fine—suddenly, certain people ain’t so “pro-life” anymore.

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The Washington Post reports that conservative activist groups (an oxymoron to describe herds of ox-like morons) gathered in at least six state capitols across the country this week in protest and in defiance of the shelter-in-place orders and social distancing guidelines that are meant to slow the rapid spread of COVID-19 infection and keep as many people in good health as possible. They are also reportedly planning four more protests in the coming days and, of course, y’all’s president is there to egg them on.

“LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” President Trump tweeted on Friday, followed by, “LIBERATE MINNESOTA,” and “LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!”

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Trump’s whole “reopen America” campaign has clearly resonated with these protesters, which include members of the long-forgotten Tea Party. Someone should probably point out that what they’re doing is a slap in the face to all the doctors, nurses and other essential workers who are on the frontlines in the battle against the novel coronavirus, putting their lives and health at risk every day in an ongoing effort to rid the U.S. of a deadly virus that, until recently, had been tallying up infection rates and death tolls exponentially. Unlike the, “you’re disrespecting the troops” narrative in response to protests against police violence, that comparison would actually make logical sense.

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Adding insult to caucacity, some of these protesters—who would typically ignore or condemn anti-racism protests—are even likening themselves to actual civil-rights icons.

“I call these people the modern-day Rosa Parks — they are protesting against injustice and a loss of liberties,” Stephen Moore, a conservative economist and a member the White House council to reopen the country, said, according to the Post. Moore believes that “there’s a boiling point that has been reached and exceeded” and that these protests are a result of that.

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In Michigan, one of the hardest-hit states with more than 30,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and over 2,200 deaths, Michigan Conservative Coalition member Matthew Seely wants to declare “mission accomplished” despite the very much ongoing health emergency.

“I feel terrible about the lives lost, but at some point, we have to say ‘Mission accomplished’ and come up with the next phase of this that doesn’t have us continuously locked inside our homes,” Seely said.

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David Helm, an attorney who is currently arguing in federal court on behalf of plaintiffs who have filed lawsuits alleging that government regulations are destroying their businesses, says that statewide stay-at-home orders violate property and due process rights because most of Michigan’s coronavirus cases are limited to two hard-hit counties in metro Detroit—you know, the parts with all the disproportionately vulnerable black people.

“The entire state of Michigan is on house arrest. That’s a problem,” Helm said. “We know there is a pandemic and government action needs to take place, but you have to tailor those actions to minimize constitutional infringements. If left unchecked, it can lead to more dramatic regulations down the road. We don’t want the governor to be in a position to make precedent here. We want the court to set precedent.”

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You know what else can spread rapidly if “left unchecked?”

Yeah, exactly.

Zack Linly is a poet, performer, freelance writer, blogger and grown man lover of cartoons

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