Today, I attended “Operation Reopen Chattanooga,” which was a Drive/Walk-Through peaceful lockdown protest in East Tennessee. This event was hosted by The Chattanooga Tea Party as a follow up to the April 20th rally, which saw hundreds gather to urge Governor Lee to lift the Coronovirus restrictions, which were crushing the economy and our way of life.
Since that event, two weeks ago, Governor Lee has begun phase 1 opening of the great state of Tennessee, and this gathering today was to keep the focus and pressure on fully opening up back to full economic capabilities. Learn more about Lee’s reopen efforts in Right Wire Report here.
I hail from a resort town up on top of the Great Smoky Mountains, and the nearest event coordinated with the MAGA May Day rallies scheduled across the nation for Saturday was in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Here are some great reports of Americans in many states redressing their local and state governments today. I decided to make the approximately four hours, round-trip drive knowing in advance this event would be limited in scope and attendance and partly related to the fact the previous protest had been robust and effective, and partly because today’s event happened after Governor Lee started his phased-in plan to reopen last week. So why did I make the trek? More on that later.
Like the perfect elixir, the day was replete with rays of sunshine, gentle, cooling currents, and an abundance of fresh air. I arrived on Market Street at noon and proceeded to drive my car down 4th and Fraizer then across the Market Street Bridge, windows down, and honking (Bring signs! Walkers, please practice safe distancing), which was the directive posted on the event’s web page. As expected, a small group of maybe 100 people had lined up on the bridge on foot and waved signs and greeted us as we passed. I was in a line of 35, maybe 40 cars doing the same procession. I later noted local media reports had the crowd at 30 or so with photos taken late in the afternoon around 3 pm. The event was scheduled from 12 noon to 2 pm.
Many “walkers” held signs and waved American flags with a strong presence of Trump-themed clothing and hats on display. The vehicles were not to be upstaged by the walkers, and many of them had taped signs, flags, and Trump decals also on parade. Full disclosure, I took this outing with one passenger in my car, which has had a Trump sticker displayed since 2016 and now highlights a Trump 2020 decal too. My passenger nor I wore masks or gloves (CDC and some local governments recommend masks), and we saw just one person with a mask on at the event. This solitary PPE wearing man was located on the opposite side of the bridge from the reopen advocates, standing alone holding a sign that said, “GO HOME.” There were no persons at the gathering wearing medical clothing or blocking traffic. Only one police car was observed at the intersection of the bridge. All participants were peaceful and orderly.
Initially, I was motivated to attend this event after reading this message on its Facebook page:
In the past six weeks since The Great Shutdown started, we’ve flatted the coronavirus curve and kept hospitals from being overwhelmed. That was the primary reason given for the shutdown. The president and governors listened to medical experts. For the first time in history, the healthy were quarantined as well as the sick.
Now, Gov. Lee’s started Phase One of a three-phase statewide reopening. But many businesses remain closed, and the governor has yet to determine when things will get back to “normal.” In the meantime, a lot of collateral damage has occurred.
It all happened so quickly and easily.
So we are gathering to help persuade local and state leaders to expedite the complete reopening and restoring of our full constitutional rights.
• Please help us urge Governor Lee and local leaders to completely Reopen Tennessee, Chattanooga, and Hamilton County.
• Write or call local and state leaders to reform quarantine powers of the governor and mayors to require approval/input from legislative bodies after a defined duration. Our system is built on checks and balances that were not actively engaged.
• Vow “Never Again!” No person residing in Tennessee shall be subject to quarantine laws without the right of due process and equal protection under the law. No property may be seized, and no businesses closed or access denied without due process of law.
• Sign a petition to recall Mayor Andy Berke.
Bring signs! Walkers, please practice safe distancing (and drivers, too!).
Contact your friends as ask them to join us.
See you there!
I attended with the intent of driving only as a form of protest. But as my car made several passes over the bridge, I became overwhelmed with an urge to park and walk the bridge and greet the cars passing. A tad background – Over the last decade, I have evolved politically by spending decades as a member of the Republican Party, the Tea Party Movement, and now the MAGA movement. I have attended events of all sizes and even the Restore America’s Honor event on the mall, which was one million strong. I am a regular attendee of CPAC, although my days of identifying with either of the two political parties in our country are behind me.
Each event has filled me with a sense of pride, purpose, and brotherhood of fellow-patriots. Today, I felt all those emotions yet more. This was different. As a woman of middle age, I have led a life following the law, employed, and self-reliant. The IRS does not send me an annual check, I write one. I have never been a recipient of government subsidy of any kind and rightly did not qualify for a Coronavirus stimulus check. Yet, here I find myself gathering for the very first time to redress my government, not about policies that could threaten my liberties, rather for the tyranny of taking my liberties away already, and quickly.
So we parked my vehicle and proceeded to make our way on foot up the Market Street Bridge. Those gathered were not six feet apart but were separated enough. A woman named Sharon was talking to a news crew and could be overheard saying, “People are hurting economically, and I especially want to see our churches reopen, We need to get together and go about our lives. A young man around 28 identified as Joe told me,” I lost my brother in Fallujah and he did not die so my family’s business could be closed by the government and perish.” Many held signs that read, “All businesses are essential,” Freedom is essential,” “Give me Liberty or give me Death”, and “A Constitutional Government if you can keep it .”
As I stood on the bridge with the sounds of hoots and horns in the background, I drew in a deep breath as if having a gathering of like-minded individuals around me was permission bestowed to breathe freely. I was struck with how foreign this felt. Just six weeks ago, and my entire life previously, I had physically roamed and pursued the fruits of my labors, never thinking of permission to inspire the air that enveloped me. I had never lived under anything resembling a police-state, and all discussions about Orwellian matters were intellectual debates and slippery slope hypotheticals. Yes, This fiercely (lower case classic liberal) CONSERVATIVE had always taken basic freedoms for granted.
Not today. Not ever again! I looked around and saw Americans who shared the same sense of remorse. In a blink of an eye, the consent of the governed observed their government choose to place THIRTY MILLION Americans on the unemployment line! One day I woke up in a country where I could gather and worship, and the next dawn erased the very sacrifice our founders and countrymen made to enshrine the defense of all Americans the right to gather and worship, and there was no town hall debate about it. Freedom defines what it is to be an American on Tuesday, and the following Tuesday in America has media platforms censoring freedom of speech and politicians and cultural elites labeling all dissenters as Anti-American and a threat to mankind. Forgive me, but I did not consent to fall down Alice’s rabbit hole and would like to wake up now …
My family Tree has seen an ancestor of mine fight in every war, starting with the American Revolution through present-day Afghanistan. Many have died on the soil in distant lands or ended up with life-altering injuries so that I could stand on this bridge today. So I could speak my peace and redress my government. Suddenly standing there, I felt very small and was overcome with shame.
I had taken a few hours out of my day to stand on a bridge and ask my government to give me back my sovereign right to be free. No, my government did not take it from me. I acquiesced with hardly a hand raised to question, in turn, for a false sense of security over that which can never truly be guaranteed or 100% eradicated.
Then my gaze caught a glimpse of a child in a stroller with her family on the same bridge I stood feeling contempt for my actions. Looking at this tiniest of American legacy yet to be written, I heard a fading voice saying a favorite Ronald Reagan quote floating in my head:
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”
I remembered why I chose to come to the event in the first place. I CAME TO FIGHT APATHY! I came to insure my future grandchildren can someday stand on a bridge and grinning and feeling the sun on their face and breeze tickling their cheek with family peacefully assembling.
As we made our way back to our car, a faint chorus broke out of The Star-Spangled Banner, among a few and soon others chimed in, and the sounds of Americans swelled in the air. I noticed across the parking lot a reporter and his cameraman standing with hands folded with a look of disdain for the hokey wholesome display.
“O! say, does that Star-spangled Banner still wave. O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”
A song I have sung hundreds of times in a lifetime, and today as those lines sprang forth from my lips, I REMEMBERED … HOPE cannot emerge from a state of apathy, and if one loses hope, one will never be free.