Americans are taking to the streets on a nearly daily basis to protest coronavirus lockdown orders gone too far and demanding that states begin to reopen.
Some elected and pundits and journalists pan these free speech demonstrations for breaking social distancing rules–perhaps a legitimate concern–or for being gatherings of racists–a slanderous allegation.
Perhaps these protestors belong to the 26.5 million workers who filed jobless claims over the past five weeks and just want to get back to work. Or perhaps they are tired of the bans by local policymakers and crackdowns by law enforcement that infringe on their freedoms.
States and cities mandated shelter-in-place orders and closures of schools, churches, and businesses to curb the spread of coronavirus. Without such measures, it is possible we could have lost millions of Americans, rather than tens of thousands.
However, Americans are increasingly and understandably anxious about when and how to reopen the nation’s economy. They also worry that the temporary suspension of civil liberties will lead to a permanent loss of those rights.
Do they have a case?
Take a look at these 9 unbelievable bans or examples of government overreach during this COVID-19 crisis and how some of them backfired on lawmakers:
- San Clemente, CA filled a skate park with 37 tons of sand. Skateboarders stayed at home, but dirt bike riders and sunbathers showed up to make use of the new course and makeshift beach.
- An Idaho woman was threatened with six months of jail time for selling items on her front yard. Police said her yard sale violated the ban on non-essential businesses.
- A former Colorado state trooper was handcuffed for playing catch with his daughter. After being detained for a few minutes, he was released without charge because he didn’t break any laws.
- A Louisville, KY mayor banned drive-through Easter services. A federal judge rebuked him though, calling his directive on drive-through services a violation of religious freedoms.
- Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer deemed paint and gardening products non-essential and off-limits to customers. She has become the poster child for government overreach.
- Vermont banned big-box stores like Costco, Target, and Walmart from selling makeup, clothing, electronics, books, toys, jewelry, paint, and a host of other items it deemed non-essential.
- Philadelphia cops dragged a man off a bus for not wearing a face mask. The viral video prompted the transit system to change its policy and no longer require that passengers wear facial coverings.
- A La Jolla surfer was chased out of the water and fined for violating a beach closure while scores of onlookers violated social distancing rules to watch the mele.
- Over 30 police officers shut down a one-year-old’s birthday party in Los Angeles because the 30+ partygoers reportedly were not social distancing.
As David Harsanyi concluded recently:
It makes sense for places like Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Maryland to ban large, avoidable gatherings. But it is an astonishing abuse of power to issue stay-at-home orders, enforced by criminal law, empowering police to harass and fine individuals for nothing more than taking a walk.
We want everyone to stay safe so that we can continue to slow the spread of COVID-19 and eventually see life return to some semblance of normalcy.
Staying safe should not be an open door for authoritarianism, though.