TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Protesters gathered Thursday morning to lock up downtown Topeka in defiance of the Kansas governor’s stay-at-home order.
The Convention of States Kansas hosted “Operation Gridlock Topeka!” The 12 p.m. protest organized on Facebook asked people to gridlock streets around the state capitol building on Southwest 10th Avenue, Harrison Street, Jackson Street and 8th Avenue. Law enforcement officers shut down the streets around the statehouse as the protesters grew in numbers.
Some protesters were seen carrying firearms, and people dressed in hospital scrubs also stood at the statehouse steps with a sign that read “Thank you all essential workers.”
The protest was in response to Gov. Laura Kelly’s extension of the stay-at-home order, which will now last until May 3. Event organizers said it was time to open Kansas “back up for business.”
“It is time to converge on Topeka and show Governor Kelly that we the people of Kansas can be safe, responsible, and LOUD!” the event host said on the Facebook page. “Stay in your car, honk your horns, and wave flags… Make sure she hears you and tell her to open Kansas up!”
“We understand the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic. But we also understand the seriousness of unemployment and poverty, which is far more dangerous and far more deadly,” protest organizer David Schneider said.
The Kansas Highway Patrol said protesters are legally allowed to gather for peaceful protest as long as they practice social distancing or remain in their vehicles.