The same group that launched Boston’s “Straight Pride” parade have returned to the city to stage a “Reopen” protest against lockdown measures.
Demonstrators gathered at the State House in Boston, Massachusetts Monday, where a mostly-maskless, social distance-shirking group of approximately 2,000 demanded the state lift stay-at-home orders and other pandemic-related guidelines.
Protesters carried “Don’t Tread on Me” flags, while at least one sign called for Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Dr Anthony Fauci, the lead infectious disease expert on the White House coronavirus response taskforce, to be imprisoned.
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The “Liberty Rally” was organised by “Super Happy Fun America” – the same far-right group that organised a “straight pride” parade in the city in 2019, which was poorly attended and mostly drowned out by counter-protesters – and promoted by a local far-right radio host, Jeffrey Kuhner.
“I’m not going to sugar coat this, America is committing national suicide. I see churches closed, I see an economic collapse, thousands of businesses bankrupt and shuttered – all of this for a lousy virus? For a contagious flu at the absolute worst? This is not a pandemic,” Mr Kuhner said during a speech he gave at the rally.
Covid-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in March, following a rapid rise in the number of cases outside China – where the virus is thought to have originated.
Super Happy Fun America was founded by the leader of another group – Resist Marxism – whose leaders once relished the idea of getting “to throw anti-American communists from helicopters sooner than we thought,” a reference to one of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet’s methods of execution. The group once used a white nationalist group – Patriot Front – as security at an event.
Additionally, chat logs leaked to Think Progress show members of Resist Marxism used anti-Semitic slurs and made anti-Semitic jokes.
The rally was a reaction to Governor Charlie Baker extending the state’s stay-at-home orders beyond their initial 1 May date to 18 May.
Responding to a question from Boston.com, Mr Baker said his decision to extend the order was based on science, and he understood that economic and social consequences were likely.
“We do believe and buy into the guidance that we’ve gotten from experts in the field that you need to see downward trends in a number of key indices associated with this virus for some period of time before you can actually reopen, and that’s the reason why we created the reopening task force, and it’s why we’ve spent so much time working with our colleagues in the healthcare community to develop a set of indices that we report on every single day,” Mr Baker said in a statement. “And as I said in my remarks, you know, after a really long time of not seeing much positive traction at all with regard to those measures, in the course of the past few days, we’ve actually started to see some positive downward trends.”
According to WBUR Radio, Mr Baker formed an advisory panel of government officials, business leaders and healthcare experts who will work to determine a strategy and timeline for reopening the state.
The board’s first plan is expected to be revealed on 18 May.