‘This is the end of our way of life,’ leader of ReOpen NC says at Raleigh protest

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Protesters were back in downtown Raleigh for the fourth straight Tuesday, urging Gov. Roy Cooper to “reopen” the state amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cooper is expected to lay out more details about moving forward into “Phase One” of the reopening plan later today.

It was a much different atmosphere downtown today than last week. The crowd was smaller than in past weeks and mostly stayed in a parking lot between the Governor’s Mansion and the General Assembly. At one point a small group walked to the

In the last few weeks, five people, including ReOpen NC leader Ashley Smith, have been arrested at the protests.

Another organizer quit after the arrests last week.

This week, the group said they had owners of small businesses and people who lost their jobs in attendance to share their stories and talk about the impacts the state’s stay-at-home order has had on them.

“We are here today to talk about our broken hearts and to share in each other’s sorrow because for many of us this is the end of our way of life as we have known it,” said Smith.

About a block away from the ReOpen NC protest, a group of medical professionals stood outside the North Carolina Legislative Building and showed their support for the governor’s decisions and cautioned against reopening the state too soon.

“Everybody that I know wants to get back to normalcy. But, at the end of the day, we have to balance the pros and the cons. And, I think life is more important than livelihood,” said Lisa Matthews who traveled from Winston-Salem to stand in support of the state’s COVID-19 response.

Toward the end of the protest, State Capitol Police arrested Jason Lanier and charged him with trespassing.

Emily Rinaldo said she and Lanier are from California and have been working on a documentary amid the COVID-19 outbreak. She said a parking attendant asked Lanier to move some equipment, and that an argument escalated after that. “He wanted to puff up and show his sense of power,” she said of the parking employee.

In an email, police spokesperson Clyde Roper wrote, “As today’s protest was ending, State Capitol Police received a request for assistance from officials with the Department of Administration’s state parking unit. State Parking personnel advised officers that Jason Lanier, 45, was blocking the flow of traffic from the state parking lot and had refused their request to move. When Lanier refused officers’ request to comply, he was arrested on the charge of second-degree trespassing.”

North Carolina saw another 22 deaths from the coronavirus over the last 24 hours and state health officials reported at least 408 new cases.

There have been at least 12,256 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state at least 452 deaths. Nearly 540 people are currently hospitalized across North Carolina due to the coronavirus.

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