Alex Jones joins Texas protest against coronavirus lockdown orders as crowds chant ‘Fire Fauci’

More than one million people have filed for unemployment in Texas since the crisis began

Richard Hall
New York
Sunday 19 April 2020 11:06 BST
Hundreds of protesters stage demonstration in Texas over easing lockdown restrictions

Protesters at a Texas rally against coronavirus lock-down orders chanted for the country’s top infectious disease expert to be fired on Saturday, as conspiracy theorist Alex Jones addressed a small crowd.

Several similar protests calling for an end to nationwide stay-at-home orders have occurred in state capitals across the country, attended mostly by supporters of Donald Trump.

Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, has become a target of right wing ire in recent weeks for occasionally correcting Mr Trump’s coronavirus advice.

Hundreds gathered in Austin, Texas for the “You Can’t Close America” demonstration, organised by a host of Jones’s Infowars. Jones, a conspiracy theorist of whom Mr Trump has spoken approvingly in the past, was also in attendance. He told the crowd that “Texas is leading the way against the tyrants.”

Jones is being sued in Austin for using his show to promote falsehoods that the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre in Connecticut was a hoax.

Many of the protesters are seeking an immediate lifting of restrictions that have been successful in stopping the spread of the coronavirus. Some protesters chanted “Let us work.”

The crowd included anti-vaccine activists and was no larger than a typical weekday rally over issues such as guns or teacher pay, when the Legislature is in session.

Elsewhere, a few hundred demonstrators cheered and waved signs outside the Statehouse in New Hampshire, which has had nearly 1,300 cases of the virus and more than three dozen deaths through Friday.

Mr Trump is pushing to relax the US lockdown by May 1, but health officials have cautioned against rushing to withdraw stay-at-home orders without a significant testing programme in place.

The president, whose administration waited months to bolster stockpiles of key medical supplies and equipment, has publicly backed protesters.

"LIBERATE MINNESOTA!" "LIBERATE MICHIGAN!" "LIBERATE VIRGINIA, " he said in a tweet-storm in which he also lashed out at New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, for criticizing the federal response.

Protesters walk towards the Texas State Capital building on April 18, 2020 in Austin, Texas. The protest was organized by Infowars host Owen Shroyer who is joining other protesters across the country in taking to the streets to call for the country to be opened up despite the risk of Covid-19. (Getty Images / Sergio Flores)

More than one million people have filed for unemployment in Texas since the crisis began. A day before the protests, images showed hundreds of cars lined up outside a food bank in San Antonio.

The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the US passed 700,000 on Saturday. More than 37,000 people have died.

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