OLYMPIA, Wash. - Hundreds of people from all over Washington swarmed to the state capitol in Olympia on Saturday to protest Gov. Jay Inslee's stay-at-home order.
It was the second large demonstration against Inslee's shutdown order in three weeks, with many protesters demanding that businesses and schools be allowed to open back up immediately even as the coronavirus keeps spreading.
The Washington State Patrol estimated about 1,500 people attended the rally. Many demonstrators stood side-by-side in the brilliant May sunshine, ignoring social distancing guidelines, while some families hung out on lawn chairs.
Rally organizer Tyler Miller says the governor and the state of Washington need to end the stay-home order immediately.
"The measures (Inslee) has in place are actually hurting real people," Miller said. "We can be mindful (of safety precautions) at the same time we are being respectful of our constitutional liberties and letting people get back to work."
Rally participant Eric Minor of Gig Harbor agreed.
"The lockdown is destroying tens of thousands of businesses in Washington state - small businesses," he said.
Another attendee, Ryan Earl of Silverdale, said many people he knows are suffering from the economic shutdown.
"I have friends who are deciding whether to feed their family or pay their mortgage," he said. "Even though banks say they are going to help, they’re not helping. I’m tired of it. I’m here to take a stand."
Lobrie Lebret came all the way from the Spokane area to take part in the anti-shutdown protest.
"We need to reopen our businesses," Lebret said. "We have more people suffering from businesses being closed and mental health (problems) than we do from the virus currently in our state."
Activist Tim Eyman, who is running for governor, was among those who spoke at the rally. He’s supporting a lawsuit that calls for schools to be reopened immediately so that all students have equal access to education - including those without access to online classes via the internet.
Rally participant Christina Condos of Tacoma said she also supports the school-reopening lawsuit.
"There is a lot of children who don’t have access to wi-fi to do the in-home studies," she said. "It just makes it so complex for everybody - all the parents that need to work. Some parents have needed to stop working."
State troopers who kept a watch over Saturday's rally said some demontrators seemed to be more belligerent compared with past rallies - but there were no major problems.