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Protesters Rally To Reopen North Carolina

A few hundred people gathered Tuesday in downtown Raleigh for a "ReOpen NC" rally. They were protesting Governor Roy Cooper's stay-at-home order, which was put in place to limit coronavirus infections in North Carolina.

The crowd of people marching in unison down Jones Street towards the state legislature clearly were not observing social distancing guidelines. They were packed in the middle of the street, shoulder to shoulder holding flags like "Don't Tread on Me," the United States flag, and signs like "No New Normal," "Flatten the Fear," and "Re-Open NC."

Tuesday's protest came a week after a similar demonstration resulted in the arrest of one person for engaging in what the Raleigh Police called non-essential activity − a violation of the governor's executive order.

The order allows people to shop, go outside for exercise and engage in other activities as long as they adhere to social distancing guidelines, like staying at least 6 feet away from others they don't live with. That was not happening as the protesters assembled for a rally and march around the governor's mansion.

The Peguero family traveled from Fuquay-Varina on Tuesday to protest at the ReOpenNC rally in downtown Raleigh.
Credit Kate Medley / For WUNC
The Peguero family traveled from Fuquay-Varina on Tuesday to protest at the ReOpenNC rally in downtown Raleigh.

Maggie Sandrock drove about 40 minutes from her home to join the protest. "I'm here to stand for liberty and stand against fear," she said.

Sandrock, who said she "adores" President Trump, also said she believes the economic impact of Governor Cooper's order could cause people to die.

"They don't eat, there's depression, there's more family attacks, there's more suicide hotlines, people need to work," she said.

U.S. Representative Dan Bishop stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the protesters. The Republican congressman from Mecklenburg County chided Cooper, a Democrat, for not having a clearer plan on when restrictions will be lifted.

"The constitution limits his authority and he's got to act in a way that's not arbitrary and capricious," he said. "He's got to operate on the basis of solid facts."

At the coronavirus a briefing on Tuesday, Cooper said he understands people are frustrated and want to get back to work and send their kids back to school. And that staying at home is not sustainable long-term.

"But what we have to do is to ease back into it to make sure that this virus does not spike, which it very easily could do, overwhelming our hospitals," he said.

Cooper said details on plans to ease public health restrictions are coming this week. One thing that's required is a reduction in the number of new COVID-19 cases over 14 days. A threshold established not by Cooper but by the administration of President Trump, someone that Representative Bishop said is doing a great job.

Rusty Jacobs is WUNC's Voting and Election Integrity Reporter.
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