The governor of Maryland said on Sunday that a Saturday cross-state vehicle protest organized by "ReOpen Maryland" included only a few dozen protestors, a number, he said, that was eclipsed by the number of deaths from the Wuhan coronavirus in the state that day. In reality, the protest he alluded to included several hundred vehicles at the origin point in Frederick, Maryland and gained hundreds of others along the route to Salisbury on the state's eastern shore.
Hogan, speaking to CNN's Jake Tapper on Sunday morning, dismissed protest organizer ReOpen Maryland's efforts to end the lockdown saying that "a couple of dozen people" expressing their right to protest had "every right" to do so but their insignificant participation didn't represent the state.
"Sadly, we had far more people die yesterday in Maryland than we had protesters," Gov. Hogan continued solemnly. Maryland reported 30 new deaths from the day attributed to COVID-19, according to The Washington Post, as well as a state-wide decline in COVID-related hospitalizations. ReOpen Maryland has more than 23,000 members on their Facebook page as of Monday morning.
A drive from Frederick to Baltimore on Saturday morning proved that Hogan was wildly misstating Marylanders' participation in protests against his stringent state-wide lockdowns. In a 50 mile stretch along Interstate 70 and onto the Baltimore Beltway, an unbroken line of protesting cars were seen waving American Flags and calling for a return to normal operation in Maryland.
Hogan, a Republican and the head of the National Governors' Association, has been on the stricter side of regulations and closures in the United States. He ordered a controversial, indefinite closure of all non-essential businesses in March as well as a ban on all non-essential travel and outings. Hogan further threatened a $5,000 fine and jail time for violations.
As many other states, including neighboring West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Virginia begin to peel back restrictions on residents, no re-opening plan or eases restrictions for the state have been released by Hogan.
Cars participating the ReOpen Maryland Rally were painted with calls for "Maryland Liberation," and accusations of "Tyranny" from Gov. Hogan. Many of the hundreds of vehicle participants in the rally waved signs with messages saying, "All Jobs are Essential," and called for the resignation of "Lockdown Larry."
The Saturday protestors completely commandeered the right lane of the busy highways, which drew crowds of flag-waving supporters on overpasses and received honks of encouragement from passing motorists. Though ReOpen Maryland did not have an exact estimate for the number of cars that ultimately participated in the 150+ mile rally to Salisbury, at least 265 cars with participating passengers and drivers amassed at the Francis Scott Key Mall to begin the journey early Saturday morning.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on criticism from protestors: "Everybody has a right to protest and express their feelings ... Sadly, we had far more people die yesterday in Maryland than we had protesters." Via CNN pic.twitter.com/Zb06w0XdBO— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) May 3, 2020
Once the protest began to arrive in Salisbury in the early afternoon hours on Saturday, Republican Maryland State Rep. Harris spoke the crowd, demanding freedom for state residents and a reopening of businesses considered "non-essential."
“Now, I didn’t wake up in Communist China and I didn’t wake up in North Korea this morning and tomorrow morning I should be able to wake up and got to the church of my choice and worship any way I choose," Harris said.
Hogan dismissed Harris' remarks made to "a couple of dozen people," as "he’s obviously got the right to say whatever crazy things he wants to say." ReOpen Maryland noted Hogan's false statements and responded via Facebook.
"We had hundreds of protesters, not a 'couple dozen'--check any video," the ReOpen Maryland post said. "You are clearly misstating the truth here--we did NOT have 'far more people die in Maryland' than we had protesters. In fact, we had more protesters by a factor of 10."
Reopen Maryland group has gathered in front of Kohl’s in Salisbury. pic.twitter.com/e8CSTU4Dd5— Camila Fernández (@CamilaFNews) May 2, 2020
Hogan is also being sued by Republican Maryland Delegate Dan Cox and several others for "Overreaching Executive Orders."
Today, on behalf of thousands of Marylanders represented by 18 plaintiffs I regrettably had to file suit to seek to rein in the overreaching Executive Orders of @GovLarryHogan. @riccimike @realDonaldTrump @TheJusticeDept @dbongino @toddstarnes https://t.co/ICBnWuzRXD— Dan Cox ???? - Maryland House of Delegates (@DelegateCox) May 2, 2020
As the weather turned warmer this weekend, Marylanders in Baltimore flocked to popular tourist neighborhoods like Fells Point and Federal Hill to enjoy the sunshine and stretch their legs. A popular farmer's market on Thames Street on the harbor waterfront opened against state restrictions with strict social distancing guidelines. Hundreds of residents gathered on the crest of historic Federal Hill to observe the Air Force Thunderbirds and Navy Blue Angels fly over Maryland's largest city just before noon.
Governor Hogan's office did not respond to a request from Townhall to comment on his misrepresentation of ReOpen Maryland's Saturday demonstration.
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