Man can’t counter-protest, so he hires plane to fly banner over ReOpen NC demonstration

Coronavirus

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – As ReOpen NC protesters took to the streets of downtown Raleigh again Tuesday, a counter-protester took to the sky.

Todd Stiefel hired a plane to fly a banner throughout the ReOpen NC protest. The banner read, “fewer graves if we reopen in waves.”

“What I’m really hoping is to bring a smile to the faces of the people out there who feel voiceless — like myself, frankly. I can’t go to the protests and there’s a lot of other people like me,” he said.

Stiefel said that for the last four weeks, he has watched in frustration as groups demanding Gov. Roy Cooper immediately reopen the state’s economy as they marched downtown.

“I’ve been really wanting to counter-protest, but I can’t. I’m not allowed to. I’m immunocompromised. I’ve been trying to dream up a way to actually do that,” he said.

Stiefel said he thought about planes that fly over beaches and came up with the idea to do it at Tuesday’s protest.

“I think they are being really selfish, trying to go out and violate social distancing and get together. They are going to get people sick,” he said.

Stiefel has an immune deficiency and his body does not make antibodies, putting him at high risk for contracting COVID-19.

To be safe, he has not left his home in nearly two months.

“We don’t do takeout. We don’t do delivery. Everything is here. Anything that comes in either sits outside in the garage in quarantine for a few days or is wiped in bleach. We’re exceptionally careful and we’re going to be for a long time,” he said.

Stiefel thinks the safest way to reopen the states in is waves.

He said his message isn’t so much for the ReOpen NC protesters, but rather a sign of solidarity with the most vulnerable groups who cannot go counter-protest in person.

“There’s not going to be people coming in from nursing homes to go to these protests,” Stiefel said. “I hope they look up and say ‘that’s what I’m thinking.'”

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