Interview

Live Free and Die: Protests Against Quarantine Sprout Up Across New England

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Catch us out here, puttin in the work 🏴 Read the article. Link in bio. Hundreds protested Saturday in cities across America against coronavirus-related lockdowns — with encouragement from President Donald Trump — as resentment grows against the crippling economic cost of confinement. An estimated 400 people gathered under a cold rain in Concord, New Hampshire — many on foot while others remained in their cars — to send a message that extended quarantines were not necessary in a state with relatively few confirmed cases of COVID-19. The crowd included several armed men wearing military-style uniforms, with their faces covered. #sicsempertyrannis #pvs14 #allgunlawsareinfringements #america #liberty #memes #ar15 #ak47 #donttreadonme #bluelivesmatter #republican #democrat #guns #platecarrier #nods #tactical #operator #guncommunity #guns #politics #taskforcedoomer #libertarian #anarchist #antistate #politigram #squad #boogaloo #NH #libertarian #conservative #boogaloomemes

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Always infatuated with aberrancy, I spoke with a member of New England Minute Men Militia, based in New Hampshire to see why they protested in New Hampshire against ‘excessive’ quarantine measures.

Along with other militia’s and attendees, this group took part in the recent protests against social quarantine measures on the steps of the state house in Concord, New Hampshire this past Saturday 4/18. Many other groups from around the region and the country are demanding an end to excessive quarantine and social distancing measures because of reasons of “freedom”, protecting the constitution, but also economic reasons, from as far east as Cape Cod to as far west as California.

While I am a firm believer in social distancing, am social distancing myself, (ask you to do the same) and think that restrictions should be pushed back as far as possible to prevent unnecessary death, there is a debate raging in everyone’s heads about privacy and freedom during and after the crises.

While these protests appear to be partisan, Grzegorz Brzęczyszczykiewicz (not his real name), a member of the New England Minute Men, has a negative view of President Trump and doesn’t necessarily see these marches in partisan terms.

“As for it being a right wing phenomenon, not necessarily, for us it’s less about left vs right and more about libertarian v[s] authoritarian” Grzegorz wrote.

To provide some more context: in undergrad, I studied political science and was taught that the ends of the political spectrum are weighted so heavily, they sometimes bend in and mesh together.

Foundational principals of human rights, in this case, such as ‘privacy’, or coined on the right as ‘liberty’ are believed in so much, that folks on the right and the left can find common ground in the places that the spectrum can sometimes meet.

Or If your priorities are not focused on the right (conservative) or the left (radical) ends of the political spectrum, but on the northern (authoritarian) and southern (democratic/ libertarian) ends of the spectrum, some may say that these protests are where the polar ends converge, atleast in a political sense.

For, from my perspective, this issue brings up: what right does a person have to be able to kill someone else with a communicable disease?

I don’t think very much.

“We think these tweets are nice but our view on Trump overall is pretty negative. We appreciate him supporting protests but beyond that his words carry little weight.” – Grzegorz Brzęczyszczykiewicz

COVID-19 has fundamentally changed our societal landscape. Trump just gave me and you 1,200 dollars, the left looks more right than ever, and some folks all over the country cannot be evicted for failing to pay their rent.

I am not saying that these protests that happened over the weekend, and may well continue to happen, are a solid example of finding common ground between any ends of the spectrum. The issue these protestors seem to represent is one that people from both sides of the spectrum can agree on. Namely, a fear of further restrictions of freedom and privacy a la The Patriot Act largely came in response to 9/11.

However these protests have a conservative edge to them that look and sound like similar right-wing efforts in the past. Whether they are the Tea Party protests of yester-decade or are gatherings and groups bought and sold by conservative groups and figureheads, it is hard to deny groups like United Cape Patriots have a conservative posture.

Tactically we see differences as well. Left wing protestors still follow social distancing guidelines during their protests under COVID-19, while the United Cape Patriots seek an end to the guidelines and demonstrate in groups, on the ground.

And then there is Facebook’s role in these protests as groups and events for marches spring up on facebook, wherever it is legal. Recently Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone was quoted as saying, “Unless government prohibits the event during this time, we allow it to be organized on Facebook…” These protests may last as long, if not longer than the pandemic itself.

And as far as Massachusetts is concerned, these protests are not only legal, but they are also happening. There is one scheduled for May 5 on the Boston Common, coined the “Liberty Rally” sponsored by the group New England Against Excessive Quarantine that currently has 133 members on its Facebook page.

This is perhaps the real story here. What will come in the coming weeks remains to be seen.

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Chris Hues is a human & writer from Boston, Ma & Associate Editor of bostonhassle.com. //// They can be reached at [email protected] or @crsjh_ via instagram & twitter.

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