CHEYENNE, Wyo. – A crowd of protesters gathered outside of the Wyoming State Capitol Building in Cheyenne Monday had a chance to plead face-to face with Gov. Mark Gordon to encourage him to lift various closure and restrictions on Wyoming businesses, gathering places, and service providers.
The event was dubbed as “Rally for the Choice to Work," reports The Oil City News.
Literature handed out by event organizers provided a theme for the protest saying: “The whole purpose of government is to protect individual rights. Our constitutional Republic is based on the consent of the governed. If we are not being governed with our consent, then we are being ruled.“
Throughout the protest dozens of cars drove past with messages of support written on their windows.
A protester who asked to remain anonymous said, “There is no statute where people can be fined or asked to disperse when they are just trying to peaceably assemble.”
An abundance of homemade protest signs were on display that shared the same central message: Wyoming needs to re-open the economy. The signed carried slogans such as, “We are all essential.”
Former Laramie County Commissioner, M. Lee Hasenauer, who was attendance said matter-of-factly, “We’re trying to be safe and do what we have to do, but it’s just time to move on.”
Hausenaer cited how badly local businesses were struggling during the shutdown.
“A lot of them are open for business, but nobody is shopping there,” Hasenauer lamented.
He went on to say that it was time for Gov. Gordon to get the message that Wyoming needed to get back to normal. The former commissioner said it was time for Wyoming to join the other states that were ready to start scaling back on the measures that were taken on the onset of the pandemic.
“My kids want their schools open, and of course, their church back open,” Hausener said.
As the rally continued, Gordon made an unannounced appearance and spoke with the crowd. He began by offering a prayer for those who have suffered from the economic impacts of COVID-19
From there, Gordon took direct questions from the protesters.
“Why have you thrown such a stumbling block in front of the people?” one of the protesters asked the governor.
Gordon responded by asking the crowd to consider the stricter measures that states that surround Wyoming have taken.
“We have kept people working in this state. Other states in the region have put in shelter-in-place orders. I did not do that. I relied on the good people of Wyoming, who I knew would do the right thing.”
Gordon went on to say that he had just gotten out of a meeting to talk about how they were going to reopen businesses. It was clear that was not the answer those in attendance wanted to hear.
“Today!” one of the protesters shouted back in reply.
“Now!” yelled another.
Those in attendance continued to press Gordon on their desire to see Wyoming reopen businesses sooner than later.
“We need our private businesses to get back to work! This economy is not going to last much longer!” a protester yelled. “We need an urgency to get this state back to work!”
Members of the crowd called out their skepticism in regard to the numbers that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been offering to the public when it comes to those who have been affected by COVID-19.
For the next 20 minutes, Gordon was peppered with more questions and statements from an obviously angry crowd.
Some of the comments and questions that were lobbed his way were:
- “It’s just the flu!”
- “How many school kids are going to go without food and starve because of your reaction to this stupid virus?”
- “What about the people who are stuck in their home?”
- “Why aren’t state employees being furloughed? Why aren’t the troopers who have been exposed in Unita County been sent home?”
- “Why are you making us afraid?”
- “Open Wyoming up!”
- “Why are we letting people like Fauci call the shots. The media won’t let Trump make a move without getting in his ear. You don’t have to do that. You answer to us!”
- “Florida is opening their beaches. Why can’t we open our economy?”
- “I think you can do better. Give us back our liberties.”
- “We need to take a leap of faith people. We need to get back to work!”
- “Where do you have the right to violate our property rights!”
- We have the right to work and if we want to expose ourselves to the virus if we want to!”
A protester did thank the governor for taking the time to speak to the protesters, citing that many leaders have elected to stay away from facing those who disagree with the government’s response to COVID-19.
“I do want to thank you, Governor Gordon, for being with us today. A lot of other governors from across the country won’t even meet on the Capitol steps to talk with their citizens. Thank you very much,” the person said.
Gordon went on to say that he thought Wyoming was in good shape overall, however mentioning that there was a current struggle with getting enough COVID-19 tests and PPEs.
As Gordon made his way back up the steps of the Capitol, one protester shouted a quote of Ben Franklin that they had in their hands.
“Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty or safety!”