COVID-19: Healthcare Workers Block Protest Against Colorado Stay-Home Order

Photojournalist Alyson McClaran captured the tense confrontation in a series of photos posted to social media on Sunday, reports Jake Johnson.

A health care worker who stood in street in counter-protest to hundreds of people who gathered at the State Capitol to demand the stay-at-home order be lifted in Denver, April 19, 2020. (Allyson McClaran, Twitter)

By Jake Johnson
Common Dreams

A small group of frontline healthcare workers dressed in scrubs stood in the middle of a busy street in Denver on Sunday to block hundreds of right-wing protestors traveling to a demonstration against Gov. Jared Polis’ stay-at-home order, which is aimed at slowing the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

Photojournalist Alyson McClaran captured the tense confrontation in a series of photos posted to social media on Sunday. Video clips also emerged on Twitter showing right-wing demonstrators screaming and honking at the nurses as they calmly stood their ground in the street.

“They were blocking the roads until the police force stepped in,” McClaran told the New York Times. “People were putting their cars right up against them.”

The healthcare workers — who have months of firsthand experience with the effects of Covid-19 — told Chase Woodruff of Denver Westword that the protesters defying the stay-at-home guidance were “very aggressive.”

“I’ve been standing here for a few minutes and already seen two people get in their faces,” Woodruff tweeted.

Observers applauded the nurses as “heroes” for taking a stand against the dangerous demonstration while also voicing dismay that they were forced to do so by reckless protesters, who have been egged on by the president of the United States and Republican lawmakers.

“Just about all of us at some point or another will need a nurse to help us,” tweeted Virginia House of Delegates Member Danica Roem. “I have more times than I can remember. When they’re telling us not to contribute to what they’re seeing in the hospital every day, listen. They just might have a better idea of what we’re up against.”


According to Denverite, hundreds of people gathered outside the Colorado state capitol building on Sunday in defiance of social distancing guidelines implemented to prevent the spread of Covid-19, which has taken more than 400 lives in Colorado. The governor’s stay-at-home order is set to remain in effect until at least April 26.

“Protesters huddled together on the sidewalk and up the lawn toward the Capitol, waving flags and bearing signs with slogans like ‘Everything we do is essential’ and ‘Unemployment takes lives, too,'” the outlet reported. “In addition to those demonstrating out in the open, cars drove by honking, some trailing American flags, adding to the number of protesters, although at a distance. Other signs included ‘Your health does not supercede my right’ and ‘I would rather risk coronavirus than socialism.'”

During a press briefing Sunday evening, President Donald Trump praised the right-wing demonstrators who have taken to the streets in Colorado, Michigan, and other states over the past week. The protests in Michigan last week were organized by a group with ties to Betsy DeVos, Trump’s billionaire education secretary.

“These are great people,” said Trump, who encouraged the demonstrations in a series of tweets on Friday.


Jake Johnson is a staff writer for Common Dreams. Follow him on Twitter: @johnsonjakep.

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12 comments for “COVID-19: Healthcare Workers Block Protest Against Colorado Stay-Home Order

  1. dean 1000
    April 23, 2020 at 08:12

    It is odd that the protesters don’t protest that government takes their right to drive 100+ mph on the streets and highways. They can’t drive free when mean-ass government makes them get a drivers license.

    If they really want to work, why not apply at the meat packing plants that are still running. Maybe at supermarkets. They can always go back to their old job when it opens after COVID-19. If Trump and the RNC would buy them sewing machines they could make face masks.

    The time to protest is when government and its corporations refuse to drop the tracking and tracing when the virus emergency is over.

  2. April 21, 2020 at 15:30

    In response to Tom Paine. Of course you are correct that the people should be in the streets demanding their rights/security instead of dancing around with guns and MAGA hats. But these demonstrations were organized and branded from day one as right wing fiestas. Without a left alternative discourse the MSM driven agenda is that economic relief for working people is constricted to eschewing health and returning to work. This is a profit driven issue with increasingly desperate people used as pawns and forced to adopt the demands of the extreme right that, of course, puts profits before people. It is a very insidious development.

    • Tom Pain
      April 21, 2020 at 17:02

      I completely agree (and I hope that others do to).

  3. Daniel DeMaio
    April 21, 2020 at 12:02

    It’s simply a fallacy to say people are not running out of necessities when it has been well reported that large numbers of people haven’t been able to make rent or mortgage payments and only had a $400.00 reserve before the shutdown. While the ultra right is behind publicizing these demos, working people are being thrown to them when the “resistance” can only offer cobra, with its unaffordable copays and deductibles for millions.

    • Tom Pain
      April 21, 2020 at 13:08

      You are correct, sir. But instead of farting around in the streets with MAGA signs and guns maybe people should start demanding that the federal government PROVIDE real money, food and medical services for the ordinary person instead of forking over mind boggling amounts of money to corporations and banks. The pandemic is real. How about taking the $10 million a day that is handed over to Israel (and almost that much to Saudi Arabia) along with the ridiculously bloated military budget and providing these essentials to the American workers? Why not bring the troops home and put them to work building field hospitals and assisting the medical communities? Are we to believe that the military doesn’t have medical supplies stored away? Pandemics often are the result of warfare. Are they THAT unprepared? Isn’t the welfare of the population a “national security” emergency? Where have the billions & billions in the military budgets gone? They can’t get the Army Corp of Engineers to make ventilators and masks? A national toilet paper shortage? Pleeeze! The corporate Trump/Pelosi government is blowin’ smoke up America’s ass. (By the way, Israel has Medicare4All which the US taxpayer is probably paying for at $10 million a day!)

  4. Tom Pain
    April 21, 2020 at 11:38

    Okay, so people are frustrated about the prescribed precautions to prevent the further spread of this coronavirus. I get that. But blame the virus. Copping to the old cliche that this is about “big government” is idiotic. Sure there are threats to civil liberties in general as a result of authoritarian big government over reach, but this isn’t one of them. Pick your battles folks. This is a world wide pandemic not a “conspiracy by the Illuminati”. These MAGA dorks are the same kind of ill informed paranoid clowns who made up the equally ignorant Tea Party movement, who screamed idiotic demands like “Keep government’s hands off my Medicare!” but never said a word about the (still existing) P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act)! These are obviously thinly disguised Trump rallies. On top of all that, why in the hell are they prancing around in the streets brandishing automatic weapons? None of this has anything to do with “gun rights” and the presence of guns is clearly intended as a threat. The Orange Idiot openly endorses this behavior by tweeting that “they are coming for your guns”. These kkklowns are the wanna-be present day “Brownshirts” of a fascist movement. Take heed people! Elections mean nothing to these ignorant people! They are play acting “Rambo” and people will get hurt or killed.

  5. Daniel F DeMaio
    April 21, 2020 at 09:55

    Stay at home orders are simply not a left or right issue. Many people in the U.S. are desperate to return to work in a country that does not provide an adequate safety net. The right has publicized the demonstrations and the neo liberal corporate press has joined with them to brand the demonstrators as right-wingers. Are people desperate for work right-wingers? Even this article, which promotes this fallacy, quoted a sign stating correctly that “[u]nemploment takes lives too.” I suspect that poverty will claim more lives in the U.S. this year than the virus. The ultra right will be able to grab the needs and yearnings of the working class in the face of an adequate safety net and absence of political will to provide necessary relief. The right will fill the the vacuum of an absent left.

  6. DH Fabian
    April 21, 2020 at 09:40

    People have exhausted their savings and have been running out of food and other basic needs. What do you suggest they do? Even that promised “stimulus” check excludes millions. I shouldn’t need to point out that people can’t survive without those basic human needs.

    • TimN
      April 21, 2020 at 10:59

      As Anthony DiMaggio has reported, this protest by those toy revolutionaries and Trumpers is NOT about people running out of necessities. These are rightwing, pro-business groups behind this, and their own statements and websites show unequivocally what this is about. The media of course will conflate these frauds with the very real problems, economic and social, that are here and looming for the vast majority of workers who need help. This allows them to conflate rightwing Astroturfers and genuine protests about both past economic injustice and the current crisis.

  7. Sam
    April 20, 2020 at 19:34

    This is exactly what you get when you don’t vigorously confront a narcissistic sociopath from day one. Trump is sick in the head, his supporters are sick in the head. We are heading to an AR-15/AK-47 oblivion if we don’t get serious about running this sick man out of the White House in November. Period.

    • DH Fabian
      April 21, 2020 at 09:53

      We’ll survive the tragedy of COVID-19. As high as the death toll is, only a fraction of those who contract this particularly hellish covidvirus die. In fact, many don’t develop symptoms beyond something like a mild cold. What we haven’t even begun discussing is the likely economic, social and political collapse of the US, as a consequence of our “you’re on your own” culture. Even now, liberal media take pains to stress that the concern should be only on “workers,” the currently employed. There will be far fewer of those by the end of the year, as businesses are going under by the day.

    • Philip
      April 21, 2020 at 11:39

      Actually Sam this is exactly what you get when you perpetuate decades of inequity within the social classes. When you continue to support a system that perpetuates overt corruption in the highest levels of government. When you support a military/industrial surveillance state that engages in endless war along with a complicit corporate MSM you get a disaffected populace that you describe as “sick”. Well my friend you’re talking about millions of “sick” people who you’re going to have to deal with in a more nuanced manner if you expect to emerge from your apocalyptic scenario unscathed.
      You can start by not looking upon these people in such a simple one dimensional manner and try to understand where they’re coming from. Trump is the result of the system that has been created around you. Help change that system and “Trumps “ will go away.

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