Wisconsinites protest Safer at Home orders

Thousands of protestors gathered to advocate for the reopening of the state


© Brad Horn 2020

Thousands of people gathered in Madison on April 24 to protest Gov. Tony Evers’s “Safer at Home” order. Photo courtesy of Channel 3000.

Protests against nationwide “Safer at Home” orders are occurring across the country as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, killing almost 61,000 and infecting over a million in the U.S.

The fight against statewide lockdowns came to Madison, Wisconsin on April 24 as thousands gathered at the state capital. Many donned President Donald Trump’s apparel and flew American flags in their protest against Gov. Tony Evers’s Safer at Home order, which requires Wisconsin residents to practice social distancing and forces the temporary closure of nonessential business until May 26.

Over 6,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Wisconsin. However, they are fighting for their right to work.

“Staying indoors and worrying about the epidemic is more dangerous than going outside,” a Wisconsin protester told The New York Times. “According to the evidence, you’re more likely to die by staying home. You need to look at all lives, not just COVID lives.”

Audience members and speakers lamented their complaints as protesters ignored social distancing guidelines and went without protective masks.

Some argued that restaurants and other local stores should be reopened. One woman, according to the Times article, expressed her desire for the reopening of parks. Some argued that Evers’s precautions were unnecessary as the virus is “just the flu.”

“I was in Vietnam,” another protester told the Times. “There were way more bugs there.”

Rep. Jodi Emerson, an Eau Claire representative in the Wisconsin State Assembly, said it is completely within the protesters’ rights to voice their opinions. Americans have freedoms that other countries can only dream of, Emerson said.

“Personally, I think the Safer at Home order is the right thing to do for people’s health,” Emerson said in an email interview. “We are talking about a communicable disease that no one has immunity to. We need to take this seriously. At the same point, we need to respect people’s choice to protest these orders and protect their right to do so.”

Emerson said it is important to pay attention to the concerns of anyone who takes the time to express their opinion to the legislature. She said she has already had several “thoughtful” conversations regarding the matter with constituents who have done just that.

However, when it comes to matters of public health and safety, Emerson said, it is important for legislators to listen carefully to public health experts.

“Science is science. Opinion is opinion,” Emerson said. “We shouldn’t confuse the two. We need to listen to the public health experts and put tangible, measurable goals in place in order to get out state opened back up again. It shouldn’t be driven by a date, it needs to be driven by data. You can’t build a business or collect a paycheck if you are dead.”