RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — As many people headed to the coast for the long weekend others were pounding the pavement in downtown Raleigh for Reopen NC’s Memorial Day march.
The crowd at the march was noticeably smaller than in previous weeks, but that was to be expected with five simultaneous rallies being held across the state.
“Today is a day we memorialize our fallen heroes,” said Reopen NC organizer Ashley Smith. “This year things are very different. Our freedoms and our liberties have been infringed upon.”
Since stay at home orders went into effect in March, Smith has called for the immediate reopening of the state which recently entered Phase Two of Gov. Roy Cooper’s plan.
“You can sit down at a restaurant now, but you can’t go exercise,” said Ashley Smith.
State leaders have vowed to revisit gym closures within the next five weeks, and that has a number of gym owners up in arms.
“How are we supposed to tell the citizens of North Carolina to come back to our gyms when we’ve been labeled the worst of the worst,” said personal trainer Rich Hooton.
“There are other ways to workout than going to the gym that doesn’t require being in confined spaces with a lot of sweaty people,” said Nick Green.
The owner of Fit4Life Health Clubs across the state has vowed to reopen June 1 with or without Cooper’s blessing.
“We’re not kindergarteners,” said Fit4Life owner Ed Smith. “We’re grown adults. We know what to do!”
Nick Green, who is attending his first reopen rally, says Smith’s statements have many people picking sides.
“I think the majority of us are able to follow the rules, and that’s going to speed up the process,” said Green.
However he’s worried the rhetoric around the reopen rallies has gotten out of hand.
“I have to support their right to be here and say this crazy stuff, but I don’t have to support what they’re saying,” said Green.
Adam Smith, the husband of Reopen NC organizer Ashley Smith, took the time to clarify comments about people willing to die for the cause.
He claims he was misquoted, and that he wants things to remain peaceful on all sides.
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