About 100 protest against stay-at-home order in Algonquin

  • Brandon Harris, middle, executive director of Freedom Movement USA, stands alongside fellow protesters Sunday in Algonquin. Harris organized a protest against the state's stay-at-home order.

      Brandon Harris, middle, executive director of Freedom Movement USA, stands alongside fellow protesters Sunday in Algonquin. Harris organized a protest against the state's stay-at-home order. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Sally Gerschefske of Rockford, who previously lived in Gilberts for 30 years, protests Sunday in Algonquin against the state's stay-at-home order.

      Sally Gerschefske of Rockford, who previously lived in Gilberts for 30 years, protests Sunday in Algonquin against the state's stay-at-home order. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Michelle Lee of Crystal Lake protests Sunday in Algonquin against the state's stay-at-home order.

      Michelle Lee of Crystal Lake protests Sunday in Algonquin against the state's stay-at-home order. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Deb Harazin of Crystal Lake protests Sunday in Algonquin against the state's stay-at-home order.

      Deb Harazin of Crystal Lake protests Sunday in Algonquin against the state's stay-at-home order. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Tom Keevers of Park Ridge, right, who said his wife was part of a protest against the state's stay-at-home order that was taking place on the other side of Randall Road in Algonquin, talks to counterprotesters Raquel Wynn of Algonquin and her husband, Alex Boccanelli, Sunday. Keevers said he was in the middle of the issue.

      Tom Keevers of Park Ridge, right, who said his wife was part of a protest against the state's stay-at-home order that was taking place on the other side of Randall Road in Algonquin, talks to counterprotesters Raquel Wynn of Algonquin and her husband, Alex Boccanelli, Sunday. Keevers said he was in the middle of the issue. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Kiefer Smolarczyk of Algonquin, who said he is an EMT for a private ambulance company, stands next to a cutout of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to encourage social distancing. He was there Sunday with three others to counter a protest that took place on the other side of Randall Road in Algonquin against the state's stay-at-home order.

      Kiefer Smolarczyk of Algonquin, who said he is an EMT for a private ambulance company, stands next to a cutout of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to encourage social distancing. He was there Sunday with three others to counter a protest that took place on the other side of Randall Road in Algonquin against the state's stay-at-home order. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 5/3/2020 6:56 PM

Protesters calling for an end to the state's COVID-19 stay-at-home order, saying it's wrecked the economy and diminished civil liberties, lined a busy roadway Sunday in Algonquin.

The protesters, some wearing red "Make America Great Again" caps, started arriving about 9:30 a.m. By noon there were about 100 people along Randall Road near County Line Road.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Many held signs demanding the reopening off the Illinois economy, while others waved American flags as people in passing cars honked their horns.

The protest was organized by Brandon Harris of Joliet, the executive director of Freedom Movement USA, an organization opposing Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker's stay-at-home order.

"Yes, we need to take precautions and older and younger people need to be safe, but at some point, (with) our personal liberties and economy, (we) need to stand up for something and we're not going to take it anymore," Harris said.

Rob Benton of West Dundee, who works for a heating and air conditioning business, has been furloughed from his job due to the business downturn, even though he works in what's been deemed an essential industry.

"My wish is for a more measured approach that doesn't cost everybody everything," Benton said.

He said customers are reluctant to have people come into their homes. The work that is taking place is emergency service and maintenance.

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Benton said it does not bother him to be in proximity to the other people, citing examples of busy home improvement and grocery stores.

"I am not concerned, to tell you the truth," Benton said. "I'm not going to live my life in a bubble."

While some protesters wore masks and other face coverings, most did not.

A small group of counterprotesters gathered on the west side of Randall Road.

The group's co-organizer, Raquel Wynn of Algonquin, said she intentionally limited the group's size to four people for social-distancing reasons. She was there with her husband, while a pair of EMTs who work together for a private ambulance company stood a short distance away.

Wynn said both groups have a common goal to end the COVID-19 pandemic, and that the stay at-home order shouldn't last forever. She understands that people have lost their jobs and the economy has suffered, and thinks the two sides' goals are similar, although their timelines are different.

"At the end of the day, human life should matter above everything else," Wynn said.

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