"Prisoners in Our Own Home": NKY Legislators Join Rally in Frankfort
Hundreds gathered in Frankfort on Saturday afternoon outside the Capitol to protest the stay-at-home orders deployed to slow the spread of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus which has caused a global pandemic, and similar measures across the country and world.
The sea of people included protest signs calling for the impeachment of Governor Andy Beshear, and that read "No King but Jesus", and that criticized abortion rights. A sea of flags also was also peppered across the crowd, celebrating America, Israel, the Confederacy, and the state.
Among the speakers at the Kentucky Freedom Rally, organized by pastor Lee Watts, were Northern Kentucky Republican lawmakers Savannah Maddox and John Schickel.
"Let me tell you about the proper role of government. We work for you, not the other way around," said Maddox, a state representative from Dry Ridge, whose district includes all of Grant County as well as part of Kenton. "It is the appropriate role of government to provide you with the accurate information you need about this situation, but never to use the force of government to make you become prisoners in your own home."
The crowd cheered through Maddox's remarks in which she also talked about a failed floor amendment that she proposed before the General Assembly adjourned its 60-day session, which would have, she said, offered checks and balances in the state government if a governor's executive order is deemed to be unconstitutional.
Maddox, who is serving her first term in the House, said that she would file a piece of similar legislation in 2021.
Courier-Journal reporter Joe Sonka tweeted throughout the rally and shared photos like these:
Reading off some CDC guidelines, King mentions keeping distance from each other, says “we’re doing a good job of that.” pic.twitter.com/7UOiTXXybO— Joe Sonka #StayHome (@joesonka) May 2, 2020
The freshman lawmaker was also part of a vocal protest last month that took place during one of Beshear's daily televised public briefings about the COVID-19 situation in the state in which anti-quarantine shouts could be heard in the broadcasts.
"There were voices of Kentuckians being heard during the governor's press conference," Maddox remembered in her remarks. "He may not be here and he may not be hearing you in this moment, but he is going to hear about what you have to say, I can promise you."
Maddox noted that the next day, Beshear began to talk about possible plans for reopening the state's mostly shuttered economy. "So, this is working," she said.
Meanwhile, Rep. Maddox said that she hears from hundreds of Kentuckians every day about their struggles of earning income, and how difficult it has been to receive unemployment benefits. "They are afraid, they are angry, they are desperate," she said. "They don't know how they're going to pay their bills and put food down on the table for their family. That is wrong.
"We have been kept from providing for ourselves."
Maddox also suggested that health care workers are being laid off and that hospitals are not full. That prompted a few scattered shouts of "hoax!" from members of the crowd. Early worries about the pandemic that prompted the stay-at-home orders included that hospitals could be overwhelmed by a spike in patients, particularly those needing to be placed on ventilators to handle the respiratory virus. Other procedures at hospitals, like elective surgeries, were also put on hold to make way for any potential increase in COVID-19 patients.
Maddox also criticized the barring of in-person worship services at churches, which have been allowed to continue only drive-in or virtual services. "We have been banned from worshiping the Lord, we can't go to church," she said. "You can go to Walmart if you want. Anybody been to a Walmart parking lot lately? You can go to any variety of places, including liquor stores but you can't go to church. But you can get an abortion."
The state representative also took exception to a suggestion that as the economy starts to reopen, people will have to wear masks in public until a vaccine is developed and pushed to market. "Nobody is ever gonna force me to get a vaccine," she said.
There were very few masks visible among attendees, and the crowd was not practicing the social-distancing protocol of remaining at least six feet away from each other.
Senator Schickel, a Republican from Union who represents Boone County, said in his remarks that, "We'll do what's reasonable for public health but we will never ever surrender our constitutional rights in the name of safety."
He also called it a national sin that abortions are allowed in the country but it doesn't cause the kind of furor or worry that COVID-19 has.
"Government officials keep getting their paychecks but the small business owners who are practically starving receive nothing," Schickel said. "They are on their last breath. They need our help, they need the governor's help. Let's help them."
As of Friday, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Kentucky was 4,879. 248 people have died in the state.
547 of those confirmed cases have been counted in the four-county region that makes up the Northern Kentucky Health Department. 42 additional cases were reported on Friday. 34 people have died in this region.
-Michael Monks, editor & publisher (Note: This event was watched by RCN via a Facebook Live video. No RCN reporter or photographer was present in Frankfort.)