“Reopen Maryland” rally in Annapolis on April 18 (John H. Muller)
“Reopen Maryland” rally in Annapolis on Saturday, April 18. (Courtesy photo/ John H. Muller)

In defiance of local, statewide and regional stay-at-home orders and suggestions by public health officials to “social distance,” hundreds of motorists and citizens filled the streets of the colonial capital this weekend in response to an impromptu call on social media to “Reopen Maryland.”

Over the course of more than three hours, protesters honked their car horns as they wove around Annapolis’ Church Circle waving homemade signs, American flags, Maryland’s coat of arms and flags for “Trump 2020.” Unlike scenes from similar protests in Michigan and other states, no Confederate flags or the flashing of firearms were observed by this reporter.

In canvassing protest participants, The Washington Informer caught up with Evie Harris, one of the co-organizers of Reopen Maryland, which, according to its Facebook page, is “a group of individuals concerned about the impact of Maryland’s mass shutdowns and school closures in response to COVID-19.”

The online group, which has gained more than 20,000 members in a week, describes itself as being “committed to peaceful, law-abiding advocacy for public health measures that respect Marylanders’ civil rights, economic well-being and educational access. We support immediate, responsible reopening of our state’s business, educational and religious institutions.”

Harris, a health care provider and military veteran living in the Baltimore area, responded to questions via email:

Why did you and other folks with “Reopen Maryland” organize Saturday’s rally?

This is important to me because I am an American, a Veteran and as this crisis continued and I kept hearing the unemployment numbers significantly increase, I became angry, frustrated and even sad. Upwards of 25 million of my fellow Americans have been FORCED into poverty by government fiat-through no fault of their own. These are real people, real families behind these numbers and their livelihoods are gone.

How do you think the rally went? Did it meet or exceed your expectations? Do you think your message was conveyed?

I think the event was phenomenal and it greatly exceeded our expectations. Supporters and participants were respectful, nonviolent and most stayed within the guidelines. But, they were active, excited and they wanted their voices (or horns) heard.

What are the next steps for “Reopen Maryland”? Are they any upcoming planned demonstrations/protests?

Reopen Maryland is a baby group, literally just starting one week ago and now we’re up to over 20,000 group members on our Facebook group. We are talking about our next steps, so stay tuned.

I want to stress that Reopen Maryland is focused on growing and sustaining Maryland’s economy and supporting the businesses that support many Marylanders and their families. We advocate for our First Amendment Rights and economic stability.

We always advocate for nonviolent, civil protests and we do not condone, support or endorse violence or threats of violence as anyone exercises his or her rights.

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WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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