Pro-Trump group plans dozens of anti-lockdown protests around the country, some in virus hot spots

The group claims the protests will be "drive-in" rallies.

April 28, 2020, 10:14 PM

Pro-Trump group, Women for America First, is organizing dozens of protests across the country against stay-at-home orders set to kick-off this Friday, including in coronavirus hot spots like New York City and Los Angeles.

The extensive list of protests to "Reopen America" are the latest in a line of demonstrations against stay-at-home orders amid the coronavirus pandemic, which have largely been backed by conservative groups.

According to Women for America First’s website, the gatherings aim to push back against "state government tyrants" and are set to take place this Friday and Saturday in major cities including Queens, N.Y., San Francisco, Orlando, and Madison, Wisc..

New York is the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States. As of Sunday, the total number of New York COVID-19 fatalities was at 17,303, according to the state data. As of Tuesday evening, 64,275 people in New York have been hospitalized at some point during the pandemic according to data from Johns Hopkins.

While the group maintains the protests will be “drive-in” rallies, organizer and Women for America First chairwoman Amy Kremer tells ABC News she “can’t control what people do” when asked about protesters potentially violating social distancing guidelines at the gatherings.

A Trump campaign spokesperson told ABC News, “Women for America First is in no way affiliated with Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. These events are not affiliated with or sanctioned by the President’s campaign.”

Kremer, who has a tweet from President Donald Trump praising her appearance on "FOX and Friends" from 2018 pinned to her Twitter profile, pushed back when asked about some of the protests taking place in states that are still battling the coronavirus like New York City and Los Angeles, claiming, ”We're rallying in our cars. That's what we're encouraging people to do. And if you can get in your car and drive to the grocery store, you can certainly get in your car and circle a few blocks.”

On the group’s website, there are no specific instructions against getting out of a car or demonstrating on foot, and only one easily missable reference to the 'Reopen America" rallies being "drive-in' rallies for freedom."

"I can't control what everybody does. And I know there are protests going on across the country but what we are focused on is rallying for freedom," she said.

Kremer, a veteran conservative activist and one of the founders of the modern Tea Party movement, said she hopes to use her background as a grassroots political organizer to elevate the anti-lockdown movement.

“I had people reaching out to me saying, ‘Let’s get the band back together,’” Kremer, the former chairwoman of the Tea Party Express, said. “You have a lot of people that are new to this and don’t know what to do. So we decided we do what we do, and in the couple of days we have pulled events together across the country.”

"I can't control what everybody does. And I know there are protests going on across the country but what we are focused on is rallying for freedom," she said.

"We want people will be in their cars, with their signs, you know, decorated like for a parade, honking horns, thumbs up. And that's what we are encouraging. We are not encouraging anybody to go and break social distancing guidelines to protest," Kremer added.

Kremer was the chair of TrumpPAC in 2016, which later became Great America PAC, which worked to support Trump's campaign during the 2016 presidential election. She later founded Women for Trump in 2018, a name that the Trump campaign now use for their women outreach coalition.

Other local groups will help organize the effort in across states, like We Have Rights in California.

President Trump has seemed to encourage the demonstrations, tweeting support for Michiganders, Minnesotans and Virginians protesting against restrictions, writing in separate all-caps tweets: "LIBERATE MICHIGAN!"; "LIBERATE MINNESOTA!"; and "LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!"

Trump was asked about whether a protest in Wisconsin organized by White House economic adviser Stephen Moore is in opposition to his own guidance. The president responded by saying there's "a lot of injustice," specifically going on to reference Virginia, where he said "they want to take your guns away," though he didn't explain how that was connected to coronavirus.

Despite protests against guidelines to combat the coronavirus popping up in states over the last few weeks, Americans overwhelming favor restrictions related to containing the coronavirus and fear moving too quickly to reopen the economy, according to a recent ABC News/Ipsos poll.

Even 82% of Republicans align with the view that social distancing and stay-at-home orders are responsible, life-saving actions, while just 17% say the restrictive measures are a government overreaction that infringes on an individual's freedom.

Health experts, including those working on President Trump’s coronavirus task force, have warned protesters about the potential damage easing restrictions too early could have on efforts to combat the virus.

“If you jump the gun and go into a situation where you have a big spike, you’re going to set yourself back," Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top government official on infectious diseases, told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos on “Good Morning America.”

"So as painful as it is to go by the careful guidelines of gradually phasing into a reopening, it’s going to backfire. That’s the problem,” he said.

ABC News' Ali Dukakis contributed to this report.