Although media has been focused on American opposition to coronavirus-related lockdowns, anger over virus control measures has spread worldwide and anti-lockdown protests are cropping up in Canada and across Europe as individuals tire of the economy-killing measures put in place to “flatten the curve.”
Dozens of protesters descended on Queen’s Park in Toronto, Ontario, last week, “to call for an end to the shutdown of many services, businesses, activities and public spaces across the province amid the pandemic,” according to Canada’s state-run broadcast network. The mostly peaceful demonstration drew swift condemnation from local officials, including Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who called the protesters “selfish” and “a bunch of yahoos.”
Demonstrators claims, though, were similar to those raised by American anti-lockdown protesters, who have appeared in a number of state capitals over the past several weeks, pushing back against virus control measures that are killing small businesses and prompting skyrocketing unemployment.
“Health and economics are not mutually exclusive, We are fighting for small business, the working class, the poor, students, victims of domestic abuse, people waiting for elective medical procedures, the right to peaceful assembly, the list is endless. We choose freedom, liberty and the balance of mental and physical health,” the Toronto protest organizers told the CBC in an email.
In Europe, the protests have gotten violent. Riots began taking over Italy months ago, particularly in the economically disadvantaged south, over coronavirus-related lockdowns, but they’ve now spread to France and Germany, where lockdown measures are still in effect.
Paris, France, is in the midst of four days of violent unrest after police attempted to stop and punish a motorcyclist who broke lockdown rules.
‘”Stringent restrictions on public movement ordered by President Emmanuel Macron to tackle the epidemic have exacerbated deep-seated social tensions in deprived, low-income neighbourhoods that ring the capital,” the CBC reports. “Violence first flared on Saturday after the [motorcycle] rider hurtled into the open door of an unmarked police car and required surgery to his leg. Some local residents alleged that officers deliberately opened the door into his path, and police have said an investigation is under way.”
Youths in the Paris suburbs have launched fireworks at police and torched cars, even as French authorities urged peace and calm — and stressed the importance of lockdown measures, particularly in Paris’ poorer suburbs, where the virus has killed hundreds.
In Germany, where anti-virus efforts have produced some of the lowest death rates in the world, patience is also nearing an end among German workers, who say the anti-virus lockdowns have stolen their lives and livelihoods.
“German police wearing riot gear and face masks tussled on Saturday April 25) with dozens of protesters demonstrating in central Berlin against the coronavirus lockdown on public life,” Straits Times reported Saturday adding that at least 100 protesters were eventually arrested.
“We are here today … to stand up for our opinion. For the protection of constitutional rights, freedom, and above all freedom of speech,” one protester told media.
Expresss.co.uk says more than a thousand protesters showed up to demonstrate against the lockdown in Berlin — so many that Berlin city government passed an emergency measure banning gatherings of more than 20 people. German prime minister Angela Merkel said earlier this week that, like other European countries, Germany is in it for the “long haul” and residents should not expect social distancing measures to be lifted “anytime soon.”
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