Dozens back reopening with MAGA rally in Northampton 

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  • Christopher Ryan photographs some of the roughly 40 people who took part in what he dubbed a “Trump standout and China virus liberation day victory celebration” early Saturday afternoon on the Northampton side of the Coolidge Bridge. Between 5 and 10 counterprotesters also stood near the bridge or across Damon Road, some of whom, wearing scrubs, identified themselves as health care workers. Dozens of other counterprotesters drove by several times in cars denouncing President Trump’s policies or advocating for personal protective equipment for workers. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • A woman who declined to provide her name but said she was a doctor at Cooley Dickinson Hospital crosses Damon Road near the Coolidge Bridge in Northampton on Saturday, where about 40 people took part in a MAGA May Day “rally for freedom” event. She was among about 10 counterprotesters, while dozens of other counterprotesters drove by several times in cars denouncing President Trump’s policies or advocating for PPE for workers. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Two counterprotesters holding a sign that reads “people over profit” Saturday sit in the parking lot of the Elwell Recreation Area in Northampton while a MAGA “rally for freedom” takes place on the sidewalk of the Coolidge Bridge. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • One of about 40 people taking part Saturday in what organizer Christopher Ryan dubbed a “Trump standout and China virus liberation day victory celebration” stands with the rally on the Northampton side of the Coolidge Bridge. The event was in conjunction with a nationwide MAGA May Day “rally for freedom” organized by a group called Women for America First. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Kim Keough, left, who said she is definitely not a supporter of Donald Trump, helps Trump supporter Sue Recos clean off her car Saturday after it was egged in the parking lot of the Elwell Recreation Area in Northampton. Recos, who was attending a “rally for freedom” at the nearby Coolidge Bridge, said that several cars of Trump supporters were egged in the parking lot during the event. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • About 40 people stood Saturday on the corner of Damon Road and Bridge Street in Northampton to take part in what organizer Christopher Ryan dubbed a “Trump standout and China virus liberation day victory celebration.” Ryan said that though he had already been planning the event before he became aware of the nationwide MAGA May Day “rally for freedom,” organized by Women for America First, he decided to fold it into the larger action. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Counterprotester Debby Pastrich-Klemer, an interventional radiology tech at Baystate Medical Center, carries several Do Not Resuscitate/Do Not Intubate forms to hand out to the 40 or so people occupying the corner of Damon Road and Bridge Street for a noontime “rally for freedom” Saturday. As of 1 p.m., she said she had no takers. A little over half of the rally goers were wearing face masks. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • The operator of a car taking part in a drive-by counterprotest gestures to two Trump supporters attending a MAGA May Day “rally for freedom” demonstration Saturday near the Coolidge Bridge in Northampton. Between 5 and 10 counterprotesters also stood near the bridge or across Damon Road, while dozens of other counterprotesters drove by several times in cars with a variety of signs advocating for PPE for workers and the de-carceration of prisons, or denouncing President Trump and his policies. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Published: 5/2/2020 5:32:43 PM

NORTHAMPTON — About 40 demonstrators turned out early Saturday afternoon at the foot of the Coolidge Bridge on the Northampton side of the river to take part in a rally in support of loosening COVID-19 restrictions and reopening the economy. The event, held in coordination with a pro-Trump group called Women for America First, was one of a series of rallies around the country billed as a MAGA May Day “rally for freedom.”

A main organizer of the Northampton rally, Christopher Ryan, said Saturday it was a “Trump standout and China virus liberation day victory celebration.”

Wearing pro-Trump gear and waving Trump flags and “Don’t Tread on Me” banners beginning at noon, the protesters drew a group of more than a half-dozen counterprotesters, some dressed in medical gear, who questioned the safety of quickly lifting stay-at-home restrictions and business closures.

The MAGA May Day web page urges protesters to “take a stand for liberty” “to engage in activities we, as free people, desire,” a repudiation of the lockdown measures that have dramatically slowed the spread of the novel coronavirus while bringing much of the country’s economy to a standstill and throwing almost 30 million Americans out of work.

Rally organizers do not dispute that COVID-19 is real and that “we must protect the most vulnerable,” but also say “America cannot destroy the lives and dreams of the majority to protect a few.”

An emergency order by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker prohibits groups of 10 or more from gathering, but his order does not apply to outdoor public gatherings, so long as social distancing is maintained. However, even though organizers had urged protesters to maintain social distancing and not “give the liberals things to talk about,” as one woman put it in a video on the MAGA May Day page, some of those protesting Saturday in Northampton appeared to not be observing health guidelines.

In addition to the counterprotesters on the ground, the event drew dozens more protesters in vehicles who drove past several times denouncing President Trump’s policies or advocating for more personal protective equipment for front-line health workers.

Another contact for the event was given as “Correctional Officers for Trump 2020,” which prompted a letter Friday from defense lawyers to the sheriffs of Hampshire, Hampden, Franklin and Berkshire counties expressing alarm.

“Since the purpose of this rally is explicitly to support relaxation of social restrictions,” the letter reads, “we believe it is your responsibility to ensure that none of your correctional staff will be attending this rally, and then reporting for duty at your jail.” Noting that the lawyers who signed the letter, written by David P. Hoose of the firm Sasson Turnbull Ryan & Hoose, had worked to reduce jail populations and keep staff and inmates safe during the pandemic, it said that jail guards attending rallies, and then reporting for work, would be “endangering both our clients and jail staff.”




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