Protesters descend on Colorado capitol to oppose coronavirus restrictions

  • Shelly Bradbury, The Denver Post

    Jim Fenimore, left, from Colorado Springs, said he is protesting because "our constitutional rights are being violated." He says the reaction to the virus is a scare tactic designed to make President Trump look bad. Fenimore is one of a number of protesters who gathered at the Colorado Capitol on April 19, 2020.

  • Shelly Bradbury, The Denver Post

    Riley Carlson, 25, of Denver, said she is protesting the stay-at-home order because she lost her job as a dog walker and a second part time job at a winery that is facing bankruptcy. She is losing about $1200 to $1600 a month, money she and her husband had been saving for a house. Carlson is one of the protesters who gathered at the Capitol on April 19, 2020.

  • Shelly Bradbury, The Denver Post

    Protesters gather at Colorado's Capitol Building to oppose the state's stay-at-home order and other restrictive measures on April 19, 2020.

  • Shelly Bradbury, The Denver Post

    Protesters gather at Colorado's Capitol Building to oppose the state's stay-at-home order and other restrictive measures on April 19, 2020.

Protesters gathered at the Colorado State Capitol Sunday to oppose the state’s stay-at-home order and other social distancing restrictions implemented amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Both a vehicle protest — dubbed “Operation Gridlock” — and a protest on foot were planned for Sunday afternoon, with organizers hailing from some Libertarian parties around the Denver region.

Jim Fenimore, from Colorado Springs, said he is protesting because “Our constitutional rights are being violated.” He says the reaction to the virus is a scare tactic designed to make President Trump look bad.

Fenimore said it is a good idea to take precautions like handwashing or staying home when sick, but said closing businesses goes too far. The stay home order should be lifted now, not April 26, he said. “Every day that goes by is hurting the state.”

Dozens of cars circled the Capitol, horns blaring, while about 200 people stood on the lawn with posters and flags. Very few people wore masks or followed recommended social-distancing guidelines.

Authorities on Friday recognized the protesters’ First Amendment rights and said that the novel coronavirus pandemic will not stop the protest from going forward. Still, a spokeswoman for the Joint Information Center called the planned vehicle protest “wholly irresponsible” and warned that willfully blocking a public right-of-way is illegal.

Those involved with the protest on foot planned to wear masks and stay several feet apart from one another.

The pandemic and shut down has wrecked chaos on Colorado’s economy, creating unprecedented job loss in the state. Colorado’s stay-at-home order is set to expire April 26 and Denver’s on April 30.

Gov. Jared Polis last week recognized that the current level of social distancing and restrictions are unsustainable for the long term, but cautioned that reopening the state will need to happen slowly, with some precautions persisting for months in order to prevent a second wave of novel coronavirus infections.

The state is expected to release additional details on the phased reopening on Monday.

Similar protests against stay-at-home orders have been held in several states in the last few days, including in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Minnesota, North Carolina and Utah.

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