Photo Credit: Sean Kitchen
Early Monday morning counter-protesters placed cardboard boxes around the Capitol Complex with the words “FREE USED MASKS” written on them.
At 10:30 a.m. Capitol Police were spotted escorting a counter-protester on a bicycle from the steps at 3rd & State Streets.
At 10:45 a.m. the anti-lockdown protesters had begun to chant, “WOLF WORKS FOR US!”
At 11:20 a.m. a large green semi truck last the Capitol with a message written in white paint that read, “Jesus is the vaccine.”
The Women for Trump bus was spotted in downtown Harrisburg early Monday as well.
Harrisburg, Pa – A counter-protest has formed in response to the mass demonstration planned in the city on Monday.
Harrisburg residents have come together in a local Facebook group to push back against the anti-lockdown protest that is taking place in their community. Many residents have expressed anxiety that the city administration has not updated them on what to expect, or if any preparations are being made, specifically in regards to hospital access after similar situations recently occurred in Michigan and Colorado.
“Everyone is worried about access to the hospital. If the access to the hospital is not protected, it will fall to the top decision makers within the City of Harrisburg’s government,” city resident Beau Brown commented. “They had 3 days to get emergency management in place.”
Two elected officials, State Reps. Aaron Bernstine (R., Lawrence, Beaver, and Butler Counties) and Russ Diamond (R., Lebanon County), will be speaking at the event.
Bernstine said he’ll focus on reopening the state’s economy in a safe way and advocate for a measure passed in the state Senate last week, which would allow a significant number of businesses across the state to reopen following federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency guidelines.
Of the anti-lockdown protest, Harrisburg attorney Bill Cluck says, “State Police and City should set up roadblocks at the entrances to the city, check for mandatory masks, and determine why they are violating stay at home order, and turn them around.”
Former Pennlive writer David Dekok chimed in on a post in the Reopen Pa group, comparing the protest route map to an invasion, saying, “This is like the Soviet Army plan for the final attack on Berlin.”
Annamarie Scannapieco, 55, of Gilbertsville, Montgomery County, helped plan a “back-to-work” rally in Harrisburg that’s been rescheduled for Monday. She’s running for a state representative seat in the 147th District. She’s also an ER nurse and is hoping people stay in their cars and wear masks.
“Our goal is for a peaceful, responsible, safe rally. Our thought is that people will stay in their cars and practice social distancing,” Scannapieco said. “We’re rallying behind the people who are suffering, who are scared or terrified and don’t want to lose their homes. We’re all in this together.”
Scannapieco, who works in a Montgomery County hospital that she declined to identify.
Scannapieco said the number of COVID-19 patients at her hospital is down by as much as 50%. “We do have coronavirus patients, but not to the levels that are being reported in the media,” she said.
Healthcare workers face off against anti-lockdown protesters in Colorado:
A city employee also responded to a post about the counter-protest in the Midtown Harrisburg Facebook group. The city hall secretary suggested that the Coronavirus is a bio-weapon being used by white supremacist to spread the virus to minorities. A local city activist immediately replied to her comment that he believes this is the intention of the protesters coming to Harrisburg.
Another counter-protester proudly posted an image of signage being prepared for the event in Harrisburg. The lettering was being arranged to spell “GO HOME PROTESTERS.”
Donna Lea Merritt, 53, of Berks County, was helping organize the back-to-work rally with Scannapieco. She’s also a candidate for Republican delegate for the 9th Congressional District. In recent weeks, she’s held smaller gatherings on an overpass by her home “to pray over for our country and our president” and also thank truck drivers and public health workers.
Merritt, a stay-at-home mother, believes the country is getting restless.
“The whole reason we’re doing this is that we’re all being the adults in the room,” she said of Monday’s rally. “We want to be respectful.”
Another group has planned to stage a West Shore post by meeting at the Dock Side Willies parking lot near the Market Street Bridge prior to the event at 11:30a.m.
The night before the protest, it was reported that a man sleeping in his vehicle on Commonwealth Avenue with a message written in red ink.
A counter-protester posted a photograph of their home on N. 3rd St. in Midtown with signs hanging in the second story windows saying “you can’t fix stupid,” and calling the protest “natural selection at work.”