Through the lens: Wisconsin’s rally against Safer at Home highlights political and cultural wars

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Brad Horn/Wisconsin Watch

Protesters are seen at a rally against Gov. Tony Evers’ Safer at Home order at the Wisconsin State Capitol on April 24, 2020.

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An estimated 1,500 people assembled at the Wisconsin State Capitol on April 24 to rally against Gov. Tony Evers’ extension of the Safer at Home order to May 26 — his far-reaching effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. The demonstration was organized by a variety of pro-gun and pro-President Donald Trump groups and individuals.

Stories of lockdown-induced hardship took center stage, but signs of the country’s larger political and culture war were hard to miss. The protest included anti-abortion activists, armed gun rights supporters and demonstrators wearing Trump-branded apparel and driving trucks with Trump signs.

Health care workers decried the protest. On the night before the rally, nurses and other health care workers organized by SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin placed 1,300 candles on the steps of the Capitol to represent the number of people in Wisconsin hospitalized with COVID-19.

Photographers from Wisconsin Watch, WPR and the Wisconsin State Journal were on the scene before and during the rally, contributing to this collaborative photo gallery.

Jim Malewitz / Wisconsin Watch

On April 23, one day ahead of a planned protest of Wisconsin’s Safer at Home order, Madison nurses displayed more than 1,300 candles at the Wisconsin State Capitol — to represent all of Wisconsin’s COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Brad Horn / Wisconsin Watch

Theresa Zanon, of Mukwonago, is seen at a protest of Gov. Tony Evers’ Safer at Home order at the Wisconsin State Capitol on April 24. Zanon, who owns a bar and grill that’s shuttered under the order to curb the spread of COVID-19, said she was protesting because “this is all bullshit.” She said she’s been struggling to apply for government loans to keep her business alive to no avail. She accused the government of misrepresenting the number of people who have tested positive for the virus, citing research she conducted on Google.

Brad Horn / Wisconsin Watch

Protesters are seen at a rally against Gov. Tony Evers’ Safer at Home order at the Wisconsin State Capitol on April 24.

Brad Horn / Wisconsin Watch

The Trump Unity Bridge is shown during a protest of Gov. Tony Evers’ Safer at Home order at the Wisconsin State Capitol on April 24. Michigan resident Rob Cortis has driven it to events across the country since 2016.

Will Cioci / Wisconsin Watch

Protesters are seen at a rally at the Wisconsin State Capitol on April 24. They were demanding an end to the wide-ranging shutdown of normal life and business in Wisconsin aimed at curbing the coronavirus pandemic.

Will Cioci / Wisconsin Watch

Protesters sing the national anthem during a rally to protest Gov. Tony Evers’ extension of the Safer at Home order.

Brad Horn / Wisconsin Watch

Jessi Ebben, a Republican candidate for Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District, is seen at a rally against Gov. Tony Evers’ Safer at Home order at the Wisconsin State Capitol on April 24.

Will Cioci / Wisconsin Watch

Protesters are seen at a rally at the Wisconsin State Capitol on April 24.

Will Cioci / Wisconsin Watch

Protesters are seen at a rally at the Wisconsin State Capitol on April 24.

Will Cioci / Wisconsin Watch

Protesters are seen at a rally at the Wisconsin State Capitol on April 24.

Will Cioci / Wisconsin Watch

Protesters rally at the Wisconsin State Capitol on April 24, to demand an end to the wide-ranging shutdown of normal life and business in Wisconsin aimed at curbing the coronavirus pandemic.

Brad Horn / Wisconsin Watch

A protester is seen at a rally against Gov. Tony Evers’ Safer at Home order at the Wisconsin State Capitol on April 24.

Amber Arnold / Wisconsin State Journal

Protesters gather at the Wisconsin State Capitol for a rally against Gov. Tony Evers’ extended stay-at-home order on April 24.

Amber Arnold / Wisconsin State Journal

Protesters gather for a rally against Gov. Tony Evers’ extended stay-at-home order on April 24.

Will Cioci / Wisconsin Watch

Protesters are seen at a rally at the Wisconsin State Capitol on April 24.

Brad Horn / Wisconsin Watch

Protesters gathered on April 24 at the Wisconsin State Capitol to demand an end to the wide-ranging shutdown of normal life and business in Wisconsin.

Brad Horn / Wisconsin Watch

Teri King, who lives outside of Chicago, sells Trump-branded hats and T-shirts at a protest of Gov. Tony Evers’ Safer at Home order at the Wisconsin State Capitol on April 24, 2020. King, who said she gives a cut of her proceeds to pro-police groups, said she and a friend plan to attend an upcoming rally in Springfield to open up Illinois.

Brad Horn / Wisconsin Watch

While stories of lockdown-induced hardship took center stage at the event, the large presence of Trump signs and merchandse — mixed with anti-abortion and pro-gun-rights messages — showed the presence of the country’s larger political and cultural war.

Shawn Johnson / WPR

Roughly 1,500 protesters, most of them not wearing face masks and many carrying American flags, gathered at the Wisconsin State Capitol on April, 24, for a 90-minute demonstration demanding an end to the wide-ranging shutdown of normal life and business in Wisconsin aimed at curbing the coronavirus pandemic.

Amber Arnold / Wisconsin State Journal

Madison police officers patrol the area as protesters gather for a rally against Gov. Tony Evers’ extended stay-at-home order at the Wisconsin State Capitol.

Brad Horn / Wisconsin Watch

Protesters are seen at a rally against Gov. Tony Evers’ Safer at Home order at the Wisconsin State Capitol on April 24.

Brad Horn / Wisconsin Watch

Protesters sign a petition to form an exploratory committee to recall Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers during a rally at the State Capitol on April 24.

Brad Horn / Wisconsin Watch

Protesters are seen at a rally against Gov. Tony Evers’ Safer at Home order at the Wisconsin State Capitol on April 24.

Will Cioci / Wisconsin Watch

Protesters are seen at a rally at the Wisconsin State Capitol on April 24.

Amber Arnold / Wisconsin State Journal

Protesters gather for a rally against Gov. Tony Evers’ extended stay-at-home order on April 24.

Will Cioci / Wisconsin Watch

A Donald Trump impersonator is seen during the protest. 

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