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Protesters Gather Near Kansas City's Country Club Plaza To Oppose Stay-At-Home Orders

042020_Reopen Missouri protesters_Julie Denesha.jpg
Julie Denesha
KCUR 89.3
Demonstrators at the J.C. Nichols Fountain in Midtown Kansas City protested stay-at-home orders on Monday.

Members of a group called Reopen Missouri said emergency measures to slow the spread of coronavirus threaten their constitutional rights.

About 50 people showed up at the J.C. Nichols Fountain near the Country Club Plaza Monday to protest metro-wide stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Organized by a group calling itself Reopen Missouri, the protest targeted Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, a Democrat, more than Missouri’s Republican Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican. Though both have imposed such orders, Lucas had been out front of efforts to promote social distancing in the fight against coronavirus.

Organizer Kristi Nichols, who came in from Independence decked out in a spangled “Women for Trump” hat, said she doesn’t believe any of the statistics surrounding coronavirus. She said she was concerned about infringement on Americans’ “god-given constitutional rights,” adding that Mayor Lucas would not have extended the stay-at-home order in Kansas City to May 15 if his livelihood were threatened.

“Let him go without his paycheck and see what it's like to have people knocking on your doors when you can't pay your bills, and your business is closed that you put your whole livelihood (into) and you're sweating, toiling to live for the American dream," Nichols said. "And now all of a sudden in 30 days it's been crushed because of wrong information and people unwilling to admit their mistakes.”

Tanning salon operator Nancy Ortiz of Kansas City stood with her three young children, each one of them holding a small American flag. She had a mask draped around her neck, though she said the coronavirus isn’t killing people. Instead, she said, she thinks new wireless technology is the culprit.

“I don’t believe that there is a disease. I believe that it’s a cover-up for 5G that’s going on," said Ortiz. “I believe it’s a lie. I believe we’re being lied to. I believe everything is a lie.”

042020_Reopen Missouri rally car with Gadsden flag_Julie Denesha.jpg
Julie Denesha
KCUR 89.3 FM
A passenger in a passing car carried a flag during the Reopen Missouri rally in front of the J. C. Nichols Memorial Fountain in Kansas City, Missouri.

Others accepted that COVID-19 as a real problem but said stay-at-home orders are overly aggressive.

John and Brittney Valas, who came in from Olathe, said their restaurant had been open just six days before Johnson County went into lockdown. Brittney said a more targeted quarantine, affecting only elderly people, would be a better policy.

Like many people posting on the Reopen Missouri Facebook page, Cory Riley, a disc golf pro, told KCUR before the event that he believes social distancing measures ordered by cities and states deprived him of his liberties.

"We still have constitutional rights. We still have our freedom," Riley told KCUR. "And what would we rather do, stay at home and hide, as Americans?"

The Kansas City protest followed others elsewhere over the weekend, as heavily armed protesters called for an end to stay-at-home orders in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and other states. The demonstrations are rallying points for militias and other ardent supporters of President Donald Trump, who tweeted his encouragement.

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