On a blue-skinned and lively spring day in April, not quite four weeks after Indiana’s coronavirus-induced stay at home, the natives became restless.
Here, off Tony Street, a cacophony of car horns shouted and more than 200 protesters roared as they gathered in front of the official residence of Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb in violation of CDC guidelines, the gatherings of more than 10 people prohibited.
They came here believing the governor trampled on their constitutional rights by preventing churches from opening doors on Easter Sunday. They were here because they wanted their little shops to reopen. And they were here to blow off some steam.
“Open it!” shouted a man from the monastery of his shiny late-model BMW X5 at regular intervals as he circled the block.
The angry people traveled from as far as Warsaw, about two and a half hours north and as close as the east side of Indianapolis. More people wore Make America Great Again hats than face masks.
A pair of yellow yellow “Don’t Tread On Me” flags, a visual echo of the tea party rallies that took over the nation in 2009, a movement like this run by billionaires astroturfing.
In a series of tweets on Friday, President Trump addressed the protests in states with Democratic governors such as Michigan, where protesters recently gathered as part of Operation Gridlock.
– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 17, 2020
“LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” Trump tweeted. “LIBERATE MINNESOTA!”
Despite Indiana’s similar restrictions on combating the spread of the coronavirus, Trump didn’t tweet about “LIBERATE INDIANA”. He didn’t have to: a trio of young men wearing masks held a sign with this message on it. Underneath were red and black letters: “NO MORE NANNY STATE !! ALL JOBS ARE ESSENTIAL! “
The protests, such as the Tea Party, have in some cases been linked to billionaires such as the family of Betsy Devos, the president’s education secretary. Elsewhere, similar protests took shape in Arizona, Colorado, Maryland, Utah, Texas, and Washington.
On Saturday, the protesters railed against what they called the government intruding on their lives. Few seemed aware of the Civil Protection Act, incorporated into the Indiana Civil Protection Act after September 11th, which gives the governor full authority to “take action and give direction” to protect the state.
Some expressed anger at public health experts. “Fauci was wrong,” read a sign.
A self-described missionary from a non-denominational church in northern Indiana, camouflaged from head to toe and wearing an AR-15, inexplicably wore a combat helmet. He refused to give his name.
When asked why he had a gun, he said, “If the government is lawless, you must understand the citizen’s veto.”
Would he use the gun if the restrictions continued?
“That’s a good question,” he said.
Others came to “own the libraries”. Another pickup lapped the block and a young girl carried a CNN virus sign.
When asked how he was affected by the pandemic, a man who would only identify himself as Joe said, “We personally cannot do what we want. We want to travel. You can’t go to Florida. “
“Pandemic more like fraud,” read a sign from his wife Irene.
The protesters were outnumbered by another group of Hoosiers: the 545 men and women who died during this pandemic, according to the Indiana State Health Department, a growing cloud of witnesses who took their last tense breaths before dying from the virus that those gathered here mocked.
Gallery (pictures by Adam Wren):