The antivaxxers are joining up with protests against the coronavirus shutdown.
Craig Timberg, Elizabeth Dwoskin and Moriah Balingit at WP:
Protests against coronavirus-related government restrictions continued to spread on Friday as a coalition of gun activists, vaccine opponents and anxious business owners used the organizing power of social media to build increasingly visible and vocal opposition movements in several states.
In many cases the protests, which have been supported by conservative megadonors, have ties to a host of darker Internet subcultures — people who oppose vaccination, the self-identified Western-chauvinist Proud Boys group, anti-government conspiracy theorists known as QAnon, and people touting a coming civil war.
Erica Pettinaro, 28, who works part-time as a medical assistant and doula near Flint, Mich., said she is suspicious of the death toll reported from covid-19 and does not believe the government should be counting people who contract the virus and die of pneumonia, even though the term describes any infection that invades the lungs
Pettinaro, a mother of five, co-founded Michigan United for Liberty with a woman she met through her work as an anti-vaccination activist. The group has sued Whitmer over the restrictions imposed during the pandemic and urged businesses to open Friday in defiance of the state order. It organized Thursday’s protest at the state capitol.
Earlier this month, a video of an Idaho mother who was arrested after letting her kids play on a playground that was surrounded by police tape went viral in far-right circles, pushed out by the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.
The mother, Sara Walton Brady, is an anti-vaccine activist with connections to a number of conservative groups, said [researcher Joan] Donovan. The video was live-streamed on Facebook by supporters, and the incident followed an earlier anti-quarantine
demonstration in Idaho organized by anti-vaccine activists, the gun rights group Second Amendment Alliance, and the Idaho Freedom Foundation, a politically prominent conservative group in the state.Sam Stanton and colleagues at The Sacramento Bee:
In the most intense protest yet against California’s stay-at-home order, demonstrators crowded the Capitol on Friday and scuffled with California Highway Patrol officers who had ordered them to disperse.
Authorities said late Friday 32 people were arrested, most of being cited and released, during the middle of the four-hour rally when tensions boiled over on the west steps of downtown Sacramento landmark.
The protest by roughly 1,000 people – some holding American flags and signs calling for the economy to reopen – started peacefully but quickly escalated when CHP officers ordered them to leave the steps of the landmark downtown Sacramento building or face arrest.
At least three people who tried to cross police lines were pulled away and detained. Several other people were pulled from the crowd as well. Among them was Heidi Munoz Gleisner of the group Freedom Angels; Gleisner is a familiar figure at the Capitol for participating in anti-vaccination protests.
Scenes from the Capitol now. There are thousands here to protest. So many Trump and anti-vax signs, American flags and very few masks. pic.twitter.com/LlCi424MPL— Hannah Wiley (@hannahcwiley) May 1, 2020