Video footage and photographs of two people dressed like health-care workers in standing in front of lockdown protesters in Denver were drawing comparisons with the iconic 1989 “Tank Man” photo in Tiananmen Square.
Hundreds of people (many notably not standing the social-distancing recommended 6 feet apart) staged a peaceful “Operation Gridlock” protest in Colorado on Sunday to condemn the statewide stay-at-home orders to enforce social-distancing measures during the COVID-19 pandemic. Protesters in vehicles lined up for several blocks around the state’s Capitol building, waving U.S. flags and signs such as “End the Virus, Not the Economy,” “Unemployment takes lives, too” and “Freedom Over Fear,” the Denver Post reported.
It followed a similar demonstration in Michigan last week, which President Donald Trump supported by tweeting “LIBERATE VIRGINIA” and “LIBERATE MICHIGAN.”
But at least two people counter-protested in Denver on Sunday, identifying themselves as health-care workers to local media and wearing scrubs and N95 masks, and standing in the middle of the street. This created some striking scenes — as well as a viral video being widely shared across social-media platforms, including Reddit, Twitter
Facebook and Instagram
that shows a woman waving a “Land of the Free” sign chanting: “Go to China if you want communism! Go to China!”
Some people said the images evoked memories of protests in the middle 1989, where students occupied Beijing’s Tiananmen Square and were routed by the Chinese military, with one image of a still-unidentified man standing in front of column of tanks, a day after a particularly bloody clash between soldiers and students in early June, serving as a key image in history.
The stay-at-home protests have sent the term “Land Free”— all that could be clearly read of the woman’s “Land of the Free” sign — and “Go to China” to trending on Twitter Monday morning.
A number of people have criticized the protesters, saying that their comments represent a verbal attack on health-care workers who have been widely praised for putting their lives on the line to save others during the worst pandemic in more than a century.
The tension between those who want to reopen the economy soon and those who want to keep quarantine measures in place until the pandemic, which has infected at least 759,786 Americans and killed 40,683 and counting, is reaching a fever pitch.
Still, a Pew Research Poll released Thursday found that nearly six in 10 Americans are concerned that the country will move too quickly to loosen restrictions aimed at slowing the outbreak, compared with about three in 10 who said the greater worry was the economic harm of waiting too long.