Shutdown brings liberty-minded Vermonters out to protest despite freezing cold

Michael Bielawski/TNR

FREEZING IN APRIL: Dozens of Vermonters braved late winter weather Wednesday to send a message that failing state economies are as much or more of a problem as the coronavirus pandemic.

MONTPELIER — Amid freezing temperatures and a spring snowfall, dozens of liberty-minded Vermonters with flags and signs met Wednesday at the state Capitol to send a message that the shutdown response to the coronavirus has gone on long enough.

As snow fell throughout the late morning and early afternoon, some protesters against Gov. Phil Scott’s “stay home, stay safe” orders held signs, while others drove by in vehicles and honked horns — actions that mirrored dozens of protests across the country over the past week aimed at getting people and businesses back to work.

Georgia, Florida, Texas, Tennessee, Oklahoma and South Carolina have started reopening their economies this week after a month of stay-home orders and business shutdowns. Gov. Phil Scott has said small outdoor crews could get back to work in sectors like construction and landscaping, but restrictions on restaurants and other service industry jobs are still hurting the economy and causing massive job losses.

Chris Richardson, of Williston, lost jobs in the restaurant industry and martial arts training due to the governor’s orders. He now has to figure out how to support his family, which includes a wife and two young children. He criticized media coverage of the virus, suggesting that it has exaggerated the threat while downplaying the economic collapse caused by governors’ responses to the pandemic.

“I would like to see honest reporting instead of repeating stuff from the big major news outlets all the time,” he said, standing outside of the Statehouse. ” … I want to get to the bottom of what’s going on with real info. I don’t want to be spoonfed the official propaganda all the time, all the talking points from the big news media.”

Michael Bielawski/TNR

One masked protester holds a sign that reads, “Unemployment increases suicide – you’ve swapped one crisis for another.”

Others let their voices be heard as well. One sign held by a protester read “Everyone is essential.” Another stated “Gov. Scott’s cure is worse than the illness.” Still another carried the message that unemployment resulting from the governor’s economic shutdown could cause suicides to rise.

After mainstream media initially reported projections of millions of potential U.S. deaths from the coronavirus — which led governors to shut down state economies nationwide — more recent projections predict between 40 and 100 Vermonters will die of COVID-19. Nationally, about 60,000 Americans are expected to die during the pandemic.

Beth Smith, of Essex, came to the capital with her son to participate in the protest. She said while projections for deaths from the virus have dropped dramatically, the governor has done little to loosen his restrictions on businesses and individuals.

“Initially we took steps that we thought were necessary and seemed well thought out. And then, as the models have changed, I’m just disappointed that we haven’t changed the way we are handling the virus and our approach,” she said. “I just think we need to take some common sense measures — 60,000 [deaths] is on par with the flu, and 54,000 Americans died last year from suicide.”

Smith said the governor’s incremental approach is not good enough.

“It’s just too far out, it’s not taking into account where we’re at right now, the numbers that we’re seeing,” she said.

Debbie Regimbald was one of the event organizers. She said the government is attributing deaths to COVID-19 without positive test results.

“They are counting like any kind of death,” she said. “I don’t trust the numbers from the government, they don’t mean a thing to me.”

State and federal guidelines allow COVID-19 to be listed as the cause of death even when a decedent didn’t test positive for the virus or was never tested. New York’s coronavirus death toll jumped by more than half in a single day last week when state officials decided to begin counting deaths assumed to be linked to the virus without a positive test result.

Tristan and Brodyn Joy, two brothers, also braved the bad weather Wednesday to protest the shutdown. Tristan Joy said he also questions whether the numbers justify keeping everyone sheltered in place at home.

“I personally think that the death numbers are off,” he said. “… I also think there are people that have gotten better from it and have had it but just didn’t know it.”

A new study out of Stanford University on COVID-19 infections in Santa Clara County, California, found that when asymptomatic carriers of the virus are properly counted, the true death rate of COVID-19 could be as low as 0.14 percent or less — a death rate in line with seasonal influenza. The rate equates to 14 deaths or less per 10,000 people infected.

H. Brooke Paige, a 2020 Republican candidate for Vermont secretary of state, said the economy can’t keep shutting down every time a new virus appears.

“Have we set a new standard in all of this?” he said. “Every time some sort of health concern comes up like the fall flu, are we going to commit economic suicide?”

Some protesters said they expect bigger protests as the weather improves.

“As it gets warmer and as the lockdown continues and as people get more antsy and stir-crazy in their house, and the weather is nicer and people are really feeling the pressure more of not having work, these rallies will become so much bigger,” Richardson said.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Image courtesy of Michael Bielawski/TNR

16 thoughts on “Shutdown brings liberty-minded Vermonters out to protest despite freezing cold

  1. Tom Fitton: Time to Re-Open America–You Can’t Save Lives by Destroying an Economy!

    VT was pretty much shut down before any CV 19 the elitists in Montpelier have no clue, they introduced further destroying events. If you want to see brain dead people have a coffee downtown: , Mitzy Johnson, LaLonde, Bauth, Ashe, Grad, Pugh, Chittenden County, Clarkson, Balint,White, et al,

  2. These folks, while well meaning, are nuts. I can well understand their frustration, but let’s get real. If your infirmed or worse all the paychecks. In the world will be worthless. Suggest they back off and ride this out for their own welfare and that of their neighbors.

    • Mike, the plain fact is that the true rate of infections are much, much higher than the confirmed cases, and what this does is push the true case fatality rate way down. This is a serious disease but it’s not true that it warrants forced lock-down, or any measures that we take that are more than what we take during normal flu epidemics. The case fatality rate for Covid is very much in line with normal flu pandemics, and we’ve been warned about this from the very start but voices of alarm, fear, and panic have taken over. These voices include the loud voice of the WHO, which to my mind is a corrupt organization that’s purposely inflating this disease– which I’ve only recently discovered, but the evidence for this is compelling. See my comments below. Ask yourself why a disease that leaves such a huge number of cases with mild or no symptoms is being elevated to a mass killer? And why are we now hearing that this social distancing nonsense will have to continue until we get a vaccine– which may be never, because we have no idea if we can even get a vaccine for a coronavirus (ever heard of a vaccine for the common cold)?

      The pharmaceutical industry that makes vaccines is very much influencing the WHO. This is no argument against vaccines– if we had one tomorrow that’d be great– but the plain fact is something is fishy about all this. WHO in essence manufactured the swine flu pandemic in 2009, with the helpful input of the same Dr. Ferguson who fear-mongered Covid in the beginning, and it appears that they are now manufacturing the seriousness of this pandemic as well, with the additional help of Dr. Fauci and many others. Why? That’s the big question. The first step to understanding what’s happening is to acknowledge what the facts are telling us.

    • Talk about your ad hominems. Okay, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. The real sign of crazy is to comply with authoritarian unconstitutional “orders” and expect that the alleged lives saved by staying home will justify it, while the complete shutdown of all industry and loss of jobs & income will result in hundreds of thousands – maybe millions – dead from starvation and emotional distress. So, Mr. Gilhooly, you are no longer working in media and need to get a real job.

    • Who’s nuts? Recall this was sold to the public as ‘not wanting to overwhelm our hospitals’.

      Our health care facilities are NOT buried in CV-19 cases. What’s the new excuse? Not wanting to open up because out-of-staters might come swarming in.

      Credibility is now near zero. Compliance will end soon. The fearful can stay home and leave the rest of us alone.

  3. My comments have been removed from VTDigger, and I wonder if True North will be next? Because what I’ve found will make you want to puke.

    The WHO has been pushing this pandemic, but it also pushed the swine flu pandemic of 2009 which turned out to be a fiasco. Who made the projections of millions of deaths from swine flu? None other than Professor Ferguson, who at the time was on the WHO emergency committee for the outbreak. What does Dr. Ferguson have to do with Covid? He is none other than the author of the original outrageous predictions of Covid deaths, which have since been scaled back significantly (after, that is, a huge scare had been created.)

    The WHO actually created a fake swine flu pandemic. Read here, and weep. This is from the WHO Director CC for Epidemiology at the time:

    Then read an account of the corruption of the WHO:

    Then, if you still need convincing, search for a documentary called “Trust WHO,” which as of today was available to stream on Amazon.

    Then be prepared to puke. Once the truth is known, maybe that’s why the US DOJ decided it would be a good idea to get permission to jail US citizens indefinitely.

    I do not believe in conspiracies. I believe in facts, no matter how sickening those facts are.

    What are they trying to do now? They’re trying to remove misinformation. What I’ve linked to above would be classified as “misinformation,” wouldn’t it?

    • Jim, I have been in contact with TNR about the multiple links posted. Said they scrutinize anything over one link. I mentioned there were one posting that had 5 links. Said they look at them and use discretion as to allow or not. I agree and think TNR is the most liberal in this respect. I’ve communicated wih one in particular, very honest person. I had no clue as to their criteria. VT’ers would be up the creek if all were like VT Digger and those non-profit liberals to get real opinions and comments.

      As the saying goes, you get what you pay for, non-profits you don’t pay for them, (ya you do, but not directly). They suck the financial teat.

      • More damning evidence of the WHO’s collusion with industry in promoting prescription opioid abuse, and even for children. These are the same people inciting fear in us over Covid. They’re not doing this because they’re concerned about our health; they’re doing this because their sponsors (which are 80% industry sources) will profit from it. How, except for forced vaccination, isn’t clear, although forced vaccination would certainly be hugely profitable if one could get vaccines like Gardasil mandated.

        To be clear, my position on vaccines is this: many vaccines are useful; over-vaccination is not. In any case, forced vaccination is an abhorrent policy. Why? Because allowing freely informed consent to medication and to medical procedures is the lesser of two evils. What’s the other evil? I refer readers to Buck v. Bell, 1927, and to the Nazi biomedical experiments, and for good measure to the Tuskegee syphilis experiments.

      • The leftists over at Vermont Digger aren’t wasting a crisis…they are using fear to sell masks for hospitals and at the same time lining their pockets with donations. Go there and read the navy blue pop up banner at the bottom of the page. It’s sickening how they limit free speech and beg for money at the same time.

  4. It’s already a known fact that the numbers are inflated. Dr. Birx herself said all deaths “with coronavirus” are counted as “from coronavirus”.
    It’s how you hide things in plain sight—just say you are doing it, and the masses won’t believe it.
    Yet they have coverage, because they said it to your face that’s what they are doing.
    It’s outrageous, but true.
    This shutdown is killing our economy, and much of it will not come back. It’s killing people literally.
    Somebody with the power, stand up now, and say “it’s over”. NOW!!!!

    • The numbers for this fizzled protest were inflated by Bielawski. He reported ‘dozens’ turned out when other sources reported no more than 20. You’re looking in the wrong place for your inflated fake news.

  5. I could see this bad turn out coming because of the weather. It seems that the last time there was a protest called for. The weather sucked. Plan with the weather in mind.

    • I went up from Pownal VT. Nothing should stop us from standing up for rights and freedoms!

  6. Attorney General Barr: Some Governors Are Infringing on ‘A Constitutional Right’

    Stay at Home Order is the same as House Arrest, I have broken no laws, therefore this stay at home order is unconstitutional .

    • Maranda v. Ariz. 384 U.S.: “Where rights as secured by the Constitution are involved, there can be no rule making or legislation which will abrogate them.”
    • Sherer V. Cullen, 481 F 946 “There can be no sanction or penalty imposed upon one because of this exercise of constitutional rights”
    • Shuttlesworth V. City of Birmingham Alabama, 373 US 262 “If the State converts a right (liberty) into a privilege, the citizen can ignore the license and fee and engage in the right (liberty) with impunity.”
    • City of Chicago V. Collins, 51 N.E. 907, 910 “…those things which are considered as inalienable rights which all citizens possess cannot be licensed since those acts are not held to be a privilege.”
    • Miller V US 230 Fed 486, 489 “The claim and exercise of a Constitutional (guaranteed) right cannot be converted into a crime.”
    • Murdock V. Pennsylvania, 319 US 105 “No State shall convert a liberty into a privilege, license it, and charge a fee therefore.”
    •“The state cannot diminish rights of the people.” Hertado v. California, 110 US 516
    • “The assertion of federal rights, when plainly and reasonably made, is not to be defeated under the name of local practice.” Davis v. Wechsler, 263 US 22, at 24
    All of these “laws” are passed under “color of law” and citizens are under no obligation to follow them.

Comments are closed.