WATCH: Police Arrest ‘Reopen’ Protester; Say Constitutionally Protected Rights ‘Non-Essential’

   DailyWire.com
Protesters from a grassroots organization called REOPEN NC demonstrate against the North Carolina coronavirus lockdown at a parking lot adjacent to the North Carolina State Legislature in Raleigh, North Carolina, on April 14, 2020. - The group was demanding the state economy be opened up no later than April 29. (Photo by Logan Cyrus / AFP)
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On Tuesday, police in North Carolina’s capital city arrested at least one protester who had joined a peaceful protest outside the state’s General Assembly building to call on the governor to “reopen” the state. In explanation of why the protest was broken up and at least one demonstrator arrested, the Raleigh Police Department explained on Twitter that “protesting is a non-essential activity.”

Nearly every state in the country is now under stay-at-home orders, which bar activities state governors deem to be “non-essential.” In the stunning sequence of events on Tuesday in Raleigh, North Carolina residents were told that exercising the First Amendment-protected rights “peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress ” are among the activities deemed “non-essential” by state authorities.

On March 27, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) issued an executive order detailing his “stay-at-home” mandate, including the barring of gatherings of 10 or more people in enclosed spaces and the forced closure of businesses and organizations deemed “non-essential.” Amid devastating unemployment numbers, which have now reached 17 million nationwide, and with North Carolina not particularly hard-hit by the pandemic, some North Carolina residents have begun to push back on the state-wide mandate.

On Tuesday, a group of around 75 to 100 “Reopen NC” demonstrators gathered outside the state’s General Assembly building to call on Cooper to ease the restrictions so more people can begin to get back to work. As noted by The Daily Caller, Reopen NC’s Facebook page has now amassed nearly 30,000 members.

The Raleigh Police Department issued a series of tweets on Tuesday detailing their response to the protests. “We are aware of the [Reopen NC] protest that is occurring in Downtown Raleigh on Wilmington and Jones Street and are monitoring the situation,” the department tweeted. “The protestors are in violation of the Governor’s Executive Order and have been asked to leave,” Raleigh Police added in another tweet. “We are reopening Wilmington and Jones Street. The protest has been cleared. There was one arrest made.”

In response to someone asking “what part of the governor’s order was violated” in this instance, Raleigh Police responded: “Protesting is a non-essential activity.”

ABC 11’s Jonah Kaplan reported from the scene, posting a series of tweets, along with photos and video (posts below).

“Protestors set up camp outside [NC General Assembly building], demand [Gov. Cooper], [NCDHHS Sec. Mandy Cohen] & [North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services] lift [stay-at-home] orders and [reopen North Carolina],” wrote Kaplan. There’s palpable anger [and] frustration amidst the crowd, which includes struggling small business owners.”

The group [‘ReopenNC’], which organized the protest, had originally called on other small business owners to stay in cars [and] honk horns. Demonstration has now morphed into campaign-style rally,” he added. “As [Raleigh Police and Capitol Police] get involved, some shout of ‘tyranny,’ ‘Gestapo’ & ‘Comrade [Cooper].’ Despite increase in volume, protest still peaceful. There are several families and school aged children here as well. My educated guess is about 75-100 people now, with about half in their cars. Every 15 minutes or do demonstrators let loose with their horns.”

Raleigh Police Department “appears to be closing streets around [the assembly building],” Kaplan wrote in updates. “Officers now warning the demonstration violates [Gov. Cooper’s] [stay-at-home] order & public health orders. Two warnings now that arrests will soon begin. Third & final [Raleigh Police] warning appears to working as much of the crowd disperses. [Wake County Sheriff’s Office] prison transports also arriving now, as officers also start walking through the parking lot and going to car to car.”

In a post that includes video of the incident, Kaplan reported on the protester who was arrested for protesting the government. “At least one person now under arrest by [Raleigh Police] for refusing to leave [Reopen NC] demonstration outside the [NC General Assembly building]. At its height, there were probably 100+ people at the tailgate-style rally.”

Related: WALSH: Police In North Carolina Arrest Peaceful Protestors, Declare Protesting A ‘Non-Essential Activity’