RICHMOND, Va. (WSET) -- A group upset with Governor Northam's Stay at Home Order and the extension he made on the closures of non-essential businesses protested in Richmond Thursday.
Groups known as ReOpen Virginia, End The Lockdown VA and Virginians Against Excessive Quarantine said they had thousands of people who were going to gather at Virginia's Capitol Square at 11:30 a.m. Instead, dozens showed up with signs in hand to protest the stay at home order.
There are more than 17,000 members of the REOPEN VIRGINIA group on Facebook.
"It’s time to end this lock down, it’s gone on far enough & we are tired of the misinformation & fear mongering...Time to take our power back!!" the group "End The Lockdown" wrote.
There were similar protests held in North Carolina and Michigan on Tuesday. In North Carolina, the Raleigh Police Department ordered crowds to disperse since they violated the state's orders.
Groups of 10 or more are banned from gathering and cannot be within six feet of another due to Executive Order 53 until May 8 and Executive Order 55, which directs Virginians to stay at home through June 10.
The Department of General Services said the groups encouraged participants to hug and share food at the event.
As the crowd began to gather, DGS and Capitol Police closed gates to Capitol Square to prevent additional entry.
Police directed those in attendance that they had to adhere to Gov. Northam's orders by not gathering in groups of more than 10 and they said all in attendance complied.
"Even freedoms to assemble and freedom of speech, they have locked the gates to keep us out," Jared, a protester in attendance, said. "They have locked some people outside the park and some people in the park. The freedom to assemble is just being destroyed before our eyes."
Last month, Northam gave police departments the authority to enforce his Executive Orders. Local police departments said they hoped residents would comply and they didn't want to hand out citations and state police said they would not be pulling drivers over to check where they are going.
The organizers of the protest said Gov. Northam and the state government is violating their rights.
Government mandating sick people to stay home is called quarantine. However, the government mandating healthy citizens to stay home, forcing businesses and churches to close is called tyranny. Business owners are being forced to layoff employees while the unemployment system is failing those laid off as the economy free falls. This is a recipe for disaster with many in our society helpless. We cannot stand by and watch our neighbors suffer while the government considers prolonging these painful conditions. The economy should be reopened on 5/1 for healthy citizens continuing enhanced sanitation habits to prevent any virus from spreading. Those with compromised immune systems should not have to re-enter the economy or workforce if they do not feel comfortable.
The groups argue the lockdown's "economic and societal consequences will be irreversible."
"Northam and public health officials, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), have encouraged the public not to gather in groups in indoor and outdoor spaces to prevent exposure to and spread of COVID-19. The disease has killed over 200 and infected more than 6,800 in Virginia," the DGS wrote in a press release.