May Day demonstrators, coronavirus lockdown protesters take to streets nationwide

Essential workers rallied for safer conditions, while 'Open up' groups protested states' stay-at-home orders

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People from more than half the states nationwide protested government-issued stay-at-home orders on Friday, calling on local officials to allow businesses to reopen and let Americans get back on the job.

Protesters in at least 29 states called upon local governments to allow them to return to work and their daily lives amid restrictions prompted by the novel coronavirus, according to a list compiled on MAGAMayDay.com.

Essential workers were expected to strike around the U.S. on Friday to demand safer conditions, while other groups organized rallies to protest stay-at-home orders they say are crippling the economy.

A protester carries his rifle at the State Capitol in Lansing, Mich., on April 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

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The growing frustration comes as President Trump has pushed for easing stay-at-home orders in an effort to restart the economy.

On Thursday, hundreds of conservative activists, including some who were openly carrying assault rifles, returned to Michigan’s capitol building to denounce Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's stringent stay-home orders.

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That same day, Whitmer declared a new 28-day state of emergency and stated in a different law that an emergency still exists.

Protesters congregate inside the Capitol Building after the "American Patriot Rally on Capitol Lawn," protest, on April 30, 2020, in Lansing, Mich. (Nicole Hester/MLive.com/Ann Arbor News via AP)

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Some angry protesters — many without face coverings — entered the capitol and demanded to be let onto the House floor, which is not allowed. The gallery was closed to the public to allow room for representatives and reporters to spread apart. Some demonstrators in the Senate gallery were openly carrying guns, which is legal in the statehouse.

Trump tweeted on Friday morning that Whitmer “should give a little, and put out the fire.”

Meanwhile, protesters in New York City held an #Operationgridlock rally at noon, calling on officials to reopen the city. Separate events were scheduled throughout the state – in the hardest hit corner of the U.S. – including on nearby Long Island and upstate, in Buffalo and Binghamton.

A NYPD officer wears a mask to protect against coronavirus, stands watch as May Day protestors gather outside the offices of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Friday, May 1, 2020, in the Manhattan borough of New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

And in Illinois, a few hundred protesters chanting and carrying signs gathered at downtown Chicago’s Thompson Center, while more rallied at the capitol building in Springfield to call for the statewide lockdown to be lifted.

Demonstrators carried signs that read, “We demand Illinois opens now!,” “Reason over fear” and “The cure is worse than the disease.” Others stayed put in cars, circling the block and honking their horns and waving American flags out their windows.

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Some gathered outside wore masks, but many did not and stood close together. Police officers wore masks as they lined the street, directed traffic and hemmed protesters in on a sidewalk.

Protesters rally against Illinois stay-at-home order outside the Thompson Center in downtown Chicago, on May 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

"As far as opening up the country, the state today, we are not focused on when the country should open,” said Austin Davies, who said he is the spokesperson for Re-Open Illinois, one of the groups protesting. “We’re focused on everyone having their constitutional rights intact, having the choice to decide when they think it is safe to come out of stay-at-home orders and open up their businesses."

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Davies slammed Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, whom he said “has arbitrarily labeled businesses and activities as ‘essential’ or ‘non-essential,’ and in doing so has violated our fundamental rights, due process, and equal protection.”

“We firmly believe that business owners and all citizens of Illinois are capable of operating responsibly and in the best interest of themselves, employees, and customers,” he said. “Illinoisans should have the freedom to implement their own policies regarding customer contact.”

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.