The Pennsylvania rally, like those at other state capitals in recent days, had some of the trappings of the Tea Party protests of a decade ago. This time there were calls to end “government tyranny,” Trump 2020 flags were flying and some people embraced conspiracies about Bill Gates, the Microsoft founder, and vaccines.
Republican state lawmakers who addressed the crowd called on Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, to relax the restrictions, arguing that with 1.5 million people newly unemployed in the state, the cure was more costly than the disease.
“Our new normal does not mean that we will sacrifice our freedoms for our safety,” said State Representative Aaron Bernstine. “We can have a normal where we aren’t locked in our homes like prisoners.”
A protest planned in Annapolis, Md., on Monday drew only a handful of demonstrators.
In recent days President Trump has helped foment the protests, attacking Democratic governors and taking up the slogans of protesters who claim to want to “liberate” their states. And he has defended protesters who have rebelled against state restrictions, threatening to undermine the efforts of his own administration’s public health experts.
Facebook said Monday that it had removed some posts on the social network promoting protests calling for the easing of restrictions, after determining that the posts violated state guidelines on social distancing efforts in California, New Jersey and Nebraska.
“Unless government prohibits the event during this time, we allow it to be organized on Facebook,” said Andy Stone, a Facebook spokesman. “For this same reason, events that defy government’s guidance on social distancing aren’t allowed on Facebook.”
Facebook said it had reached out to state officials to understand the scope of their orders. The company also said it required posts to make calls for social distancing clear when promoting protests in places where such orders are mandatory.