Why Trump Is Calling To “Liberate” States Protesting Stay-At-Home Orders

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/CNP/Bloomberg/Getty Images.
Following anti-lockdown protests in at least seven states — and with more planned — President Donald Trump is addressing his followers directly on Twitter, encouraging them to “liberate” their states. Among the states that apparently need liberating are Minnesota, Michigan, and Virginia — all states where demonstrations have been held, and all of which are led by Democrats. 
Trump has repeatedly criticized governors in their efforts to combat coronavirus, while also giving them the go-ahead to start reopening businesses by May 1. On Thursday, Trump added to governors that it’s up to them to determine next steps. “We’ll be standing right alongside of you, and we’re going to get our country open and get it working,” he said, according to The New York TimesShortly after this, on Friday, he began calling to "liberate" these same states.
"LIBERATE MICHIGAN! LIBERATE MINNESOTA!" Trump wrote on Twitter in all caps. In his tweet storm Friday, the president also went on to lambast Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, the “Radical Left” and “Do Nothing Democrats” who, according to Trump, should return to D.C. to work out legislation to help American families.
Pelosi criticized the president’s newly released guidelines for 29 states to soon reopen, calling them “vague and inconsistent.” She added that they do not “make up for the president’s failure to listen to the scientists and produce and distribute national rapid testing.” 
The Anti-lockdown protests have sprung up across the country in Michigan, Ohio, North Carolina, Minnesota, Utah, Virginia, and Kentucky. Protestors in these states say they are taking action against state governments over their decisions to shut down local businesses and issue stay-at-home orders in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus. Many demonstrations have also been supported by far right groups, like the Proud Boys, armed militias, and anti-vaxxers, among other right wing factions, The Guardian reports
In Michigan, the demonstration was organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition, which has also used the name Michigan Trump Republicans. The action was promoted by the Michigan Freedom Fund, which has ties to U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy Devos, a direct link to the White House. Protestors in this state specifically cited issues with closing down home goods and gardening supply stores, and protested with Nazi signs and Confederate flags.
Critics of the demonstrations — and the president’s responses to them — also took to Twitter to express their concern. “[Trump is] slashing at states to gain the loyalty of all those who 'like' him, regardless of the impact,” wrote historian and Yale History professor Joanne Freeman
Eric Columbus, who served as special counsel to the general counsel in the Department of Homeland Security under Obama further questioned whether Trump’s calls to “liberate” states “might be taken as a call to arms.” And right-wing groups have answered.

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