Operation Gridlock: Social Distancing Protests

Many of us saw the disturbing videos and photos of angry conservatives on the streets of Michigan all over our social media on Wednesday, April 15th. We heard chants and honks as they demanded that businesses be reopened in the midst of a global health crisis. This event would come to be known to be “Operation Gridlock.” Organizers of this protest advised that attendees stay in their cars to abide by social distancing. However, people took it upon themselves to elevate their political statement by taking it to the steps of the Capitol. These protests were not limited to the state of Michigan. We saw the same sentiments and demonstrations performed in Ohio, Colorado, Wisconsin and Kentucky. This is not an act of patriotism, nor is it an act of self righteousness. It is an act of toxic privilege.

The issue with this situation is that people thought it would be appropriate to display a white supremacy, Trump reelection campaign in the midst of a health crisis. Protestors in Michigan strapped guns across their chests, waved confederate flags and held poster boards with Swastika signs. It would be naive for any of us to say that this is out of the ordinary, as the divisiveness of this administration has consistently politicized this pandemic. Not only is the violation of social distancing orders reckless, such demonstrations are counterproductive. While we all hope that the COVID-19 pandemic will near its end, this will be highly unlikely given the state of our country. If these individuals have the time to protest during a health crisis, they have the means to stay at home. These protests are blatant signs of disrespect towards essential workers. Essential workers are on the frontlines ensuring that we are healthy and equipped with the proper resources. They are the real heroes in this situation, and we should honor them by abiding by the guidelines endorsed by health professionals. 

The disruptive protests are amplified with the continual support and coverage from conservative media like Fox News. We also see this support with President Trump as he has tweeted about “liberating” Michigan. His eagerness to reopen states and businesses is shown through the means of attacking governors at his press briefings. He claims that the Constitution gives him the authority to force states to reopen (he does not, federalism exists for a reason). Our founding fathers believed there should be a balance of powers between state governments and the federal government to avoid a tyrannical system. Furthermore, his support for these dangerous demonstrations is endangering the American people especially those who are immunocompromised. If he truly wanted to reopen the economy, he would know that in order to do so we must flatten the curve. The administration’s foothold on this situation is not only weak, but truly incompetent. President Trump has used medical supplies and direct aid to states as leverage to force states to comply with his administration’s agenda. On Tuesday, April 28th, President Trump wanted sanctuary states to make adjustments to their immigration policies in return for COVID-19 federal aid. This administration has failed to not only control the situation, but has amplified it through a series of political vendettas. By encouraging people to rally in tight proximities and failing to increase testing, we are delaying businesses and normal services from reopening. 

The organizers of “Operation Gridlock” wanted to create a scene in which people would block the streets of the Capitol in hopes that it would garner attention. However, blocking these streets meant preventing medics from performing life-saving services. Michigan health care worker, James Smith posted a video to social media expressing his frustrations with these protests and his inability to do his job. His outrage sparked a huge conversation throughout social media as people became more aware of the severity of the protests. For those who would like to watch the video, here’s the link. For many of us, to see the shift in our political landscape and how polarizing it has become is extremely alarming. Nevertheless, this is a pivotal moment in which we need to provide love, support and resources to our neighbors. For those who have the means to provide donations to health care workers and those in need during these difficult times, here are a few links to hospitals/organizations: 

NYC Health and Hospitals 

https://www.nychealthandhospitals.org/donate/

Give Directly’s COVID-19 Cash Program

https://www.givedirectly.org/covid-19/us/

Feeding America

https://www.feedingamerica.org/find-your-local-foodbank

Direct Relief

https://www.directrelief.org/

Give2Asia

https://give2asia.org/

Help Small Businesses via GoFundMe pages: (You can also support small businesses like restaurants/bakeries by ordering in. Please be kind and tip delivery workers a bit extra if you’re able to.)

https://www.gofundme.com/small-business-relief-fundraisers

Overachiever Magazine was started by Rehana Paul in October of 2018 to give a platform to all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities.

Our name is poking fun at the stereotype that all Asians are overachievers, especially Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. It’s also in recognition of all of us who have had no choice but to be overachievers: managing societal expectations, family obligations, and educational opportunities, all while fighting the patriarchy.

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