The American Lockdown Protests: Liberty vs Life

Protests have broken out in over 12 states in America over the lockdown measures that have been put in place to protect the population from the spread of coronavirus. Currently, America has the highest number of cases and deaths in the world with over 964,000 confirmed cases and more than 54,000 deaths, making it understandable as to why such measures are in place, as they are in most countries worldwide.

To British people, the protests against these draconian lockdown measures in America may seem irrational, unreasonable, and even dangerous, considering people across the globe are feeling the effect of such policies. However, when you look at the explanation that these people give to be ignoring these measures, the protests seem less unreasonable- yet still wrong.

As an American Studies and History student, seeing American people protest in the name of liberty and their constitutional rights is not uncommon, especially considering the language of liberty is what led to the birth of the United States in the first place. However, in an unprecedented situation such as the one we find ourselves in, this new ‘movement’ still seems out of place.

Many of the protesters seem to be pro-Trump, conservative, pro-gun indviduals – which would automatically invite a sigh of understanding to those who see the protests as uncalled-for and ridiculous. It would be easy to automatically dismiss the messages these people are protesting for by labelling the whole movement as organised by radical extremists that are the polar opposite to the way we see ourselves, but this would be unjust and unfair, to a degree.

A breach of their constitutional rights regarding liberty.

Many of the protesters that fall into this category, see the lockdown measures as a breach of their constitutional rights regarding liberty. Debates over these rights have been a common theme in US protests in the past and evidently continues to be a controversial topic today.

However, the people in charge who have enforced these policies believe they are actually acting to protect the liberty of Americans by protecting their health. This has not stopped protesters shouting slogans such as “Fire Fauci” , a leading health expert in America, at these demonstrations. This shows an element of mistrust between the more radical members of the demonstrations about whether the government is in fact working with or against them. However not all the protesters strongly believe in notions such as these which is important to consider.

People to conclude that the protests exemplify white supremacy and extremism

Although an overwhelming majority of the protesters fall into this radical category and many being white has led people to conclude that the protests exemplify white supremacy and extremism; some are worried about other issues. A main concern of protesters that fall outside of this category is the detrimental effects that the strict lockdown measures will have on the US economy, not their constitutional rights. Many of these people are protesting for the reduction in the measures, so that only people who are vulnerable are quarantinedm and others can return to work, as called for by the diminishing US economy.

The US has now had over 22 million unemployment claims since March which massively undermines the huge amount of job growth that has taken place in the past years in America. This is an understandable concern for many with nearly every country seeing detrimental effects on their economy. Economists are warning that the world is facing the sharpest slowdown since the Great Depression in the 1930s.

Ultimately, the protests seem to be mainly Americans demanding their constitutional rights of liberty and freedom

The protests that have broken out in America over the coronavirus lockdown measures create a difficult situation with no clear solution. The protesters, by campaigning, are putting their health directly at risk by participating in the mass gatherings, prioritising their constitutional rights and economy over their health. If the government bowed down to the protestors and relaxed measures, allowing people to freely return to work like many politicians are calling for (Trump being a controversial supporter of this), then this could cause coronavirus cases to sky-rocket.

However, if lockdown measures continue to be enforced it seems more tension and protest will arise, making the situation a very hard one to deal with considering the positives and negatives to either side of the debate. Ultimately, the protests seem to be mainly Americans demanding their constitutional rights of liberty and freedom, despite the danger this could put them in, and without adapting their rights based on the severity of the situation.

Isabelle Raikes

Featured image courtesy of michael_swan via Flikr. No changes made to this image. Image license found here. 

In article image courtesy of @RolandDodds via Twitter. No changes were made to this image. 

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