Hundreds of frustrated Delawareans gathered Friday afternoon outside Legislative Hall in Dover to protest the state’s ongoing shutdown in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Reopen Delaware rallies were held at two locations across the state at 12 p.m. Friday, May 1, 2020. One rally was held outside Legislative Hall in Dover and the other in Downtown Wilmington.
Delawareans by the hundreds could be found outside Legislative Hall on the green rallying for the state to reopen, protesting the shutdown as a result of Governor John Carney’s executive orders in response to COVID-19.
Overall, protestors were adhering to social distancing mandates, but about half of those in attendance were not wearing masks as ordered by the Governor earlier this week.
Crowds could be heard chanting “USA” with many waving flags and others displaying signs that read “Reopen Delaware.”
State Senator Dave Wilson was among those in attendance at Friday’s rally. As a small business owner, he expressed how his business and so many others are suffering as a result of the ongoing shutdown and implored Governor Carney to protect the constitutional rights of those he swore to represent.
“The Governor, I think, is listening to a lot of people but he needs to face reality and we definitely have to stand up for what’s right, constitutional rights,” Senator Wilson said. “We’re losing peoples lives everyday, but at the same time we’ve got to be mindful of other businesses. I know the Governor said a few years ago that the poultry industry was having trouble with the EPA, and the farmers and the poultry plants said ‘do you want us?’ and as a small businessman, and a legislator of the 18th District, I am asking the Governor a question: do you want us?”
An ongoing sentiment and concern expressed by many were the fact that churches have been closed as a result of the shutdown along with small businesses like your traditional mom-and-pop convenience stores.
“We feel like our rights have been taken away without a plan,” one protestor said. “Carney’s been reactionary instead of proactive. He will leave Walmart open, you can have 150 people in there, but you can’t have a mom-and-pop store with three or four people trying to buy a pair of socks or a pack of paper for their kids or something. The inequities between it just seems like it caters to certain people.”
There were hundreds of cars that were decorated with flags and signs that circled the area of Legislative Mall, honking in support of the rally.
Also in attendance was Rob Arlett, a former Sussex County Councilman and Chairman of the Trump Campaign in Delaware, who was a host of the rally and said what this is about is constitutional rights and freedoms that have been infringed upon as a result of the shutdown.
“The goal was to flatten the curve to ensure the infrastructure could handle the numbers, mission accomplished, well it appears now that the government is choosing not to flatten the curve but to crush our economy and crush our personal freedoms,” Arlett said. “Nobody has the ability to stricken one’s constitutional rights. The Governor’s executive orders do not override the U.S. Constitution.”
Similar protests have already been held in other states across the nation, including neighboring Maryland where yet another rally is scheduled to take place Saturday starting in Frederick and ending in Salisbury.