A gathering to protest park closures and other emergency restrictions during the COVID-19 outbreak is being hinted at by a Tea Party activist. Yes, the Tea Party. Remember those folks?

The most nationally famous protest so far was the one in Lansing, Michigan called Operation: Gridlock. Huge crowds gathered in violation of stay-at-home and social distancing orders to protest, well, stay-at-home and social distancing orders. Plenty of signs, MAGA caps and American flags were seen in the crowd.

The people who are risking their necks for us, nurses in hospitals, were not pleased. In a statement put out by the Michigan Nurses Association the protest was called out for sending “exactly the opposite message that nurses and healthcare professionals are trying to get across: we are begging people, please stay home. The protest was irresponsible, impeding ambulances and traffic to Sparrow Hospital, where frontline healthcare workers are risking their lives taking care of patients suffering from COVID-19. Lives are being saved because of the stay-home order. We ask everyone to protect themselves, their families and us by doing what’s best for the greater good.”

Other protests have been reported around the country and now a smaller scale one may be happening in Sussex County on Saturday. William J. Hayden is the president of Skylands Tea Party and according to an article on NJ.com, he’s hinting at carrying out a protest. According to that report, he claims the police chief told him he will be arrested if it happens. It was believed it might take place at Newton Green which is county-owned land now closed to the public by executive order. But in a Facebook message he wrote “we weren’t going there anyway morons,” and added in a comment that something was still planned.

Where will it happen? Will it happen at all? Stay tuned.

The real question is should it happen? These types of people are screaming about their rights in the middle of a health emergency. In just a bit over one month we’ve gone from 1 COVID-19 death to three times the number of dead in an entire average flu season in New Jersey. That’s WITH all the restrictions these misguided souls are now protesting. If these protesters had their way, many, many more people would be dead.

So people can protest all they want about their rights in the middle of an emergency. They’re wrong. These are not normal times. You have the right to assemble. But when there’s an emergency like a crime scene or a bomb threat, authorities in the interest of public safety have the right to deny you. You have the right to freedom of movement. But when there’s a distraught man on an overpass threatening to jump, authorities have the right to shut down the highway. You have the right of freedom of religion. But not to act if your religion involves a human sacrifice. There are very few absolute rights.

But if you want an absolute, here’s one. If those protesting the emergency restrictions had their way and these restrictions were never put in place, many more New Jerseyans would be dead.

New Jerseyans embracing their face masks

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