Conspiracy theory website Infowars convinced hundreds of people to gather in close proximity in Austin, Texas, on Saturday at a rally to protest business closures caused by a global pandemic that has killed thousands of Americans.
Infowars talk show host Owen Shroyer organized the rally, called “You Can’t Close America,” after threatening earlier this month to mobilize his gullible audience into defying common sense social distancing orders.
“Reopen the economy next week, reopen everything next week, or I really might come on here just start calling for revolting against this,” he said on Infowars on April 8, Right Wing Watch first reported.
Sergio Flores via Getty Images Protesters gathered at the Texas State Capital building on Saturday.
He made good on that threat when hundreds of his listeners showed up at the state capitol Saturday demanding that businesses that have been closed be allowed to reopen immediately.
Protestors carried signs in support of President Donald Trump, who has done little to convince his base to stop protesting stay-at-home orders. In Michigan earlier this week, hundreds of anti-safety protestors blocked streets in defiance of an executive order from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) to shelter in place. Trump responded by calling for a mutiny against state governments on Twitter.
“LIBERATE MINNESOTA!” “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” “LIBERATE VIRGINIA,” Trump said in a Friday tweet-storm.
At the Austin protest, crowds chanted “Fire Fauci!” — referring to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert who has urged caution against immediately reopening businesses.
Chant of “Fire Fauci!” pic.twitter.com/Vj4aQhtQs7
— Manny Fernandez (@mannyNYT) April 18, 2020
Alex Jones, the proprietor of Infowars, also attended. Jones and Shroyer are both being sued for defamation for repeatedly and falsely claiming that the shooting at Sandy Hook in 2012 never happened and that the parents of dead children are “crisis actors.” The rally also featured trademark Infowars propaganda, including signs denouncing vaccines.
Sergio Flores via Getty Images Infowars founder Alex Jones interacts with supporters at the Austin rally.
A similar protest also took place in California on Saturday.
In the U.S., the death toll from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, is now over 35,000, and there are more than 670,000 confirmed infections in the country, according to Johns Hopkins University. Millions more are infected worldwide.
A HuffPost Guide To Coronavirus Stay up to date with our live blog as we cover the COVID-19 pandemic What happens if we end social distancing too soon? What you need to know about face masks right now How long are asymptomatic carriers contagious? Lost your job due to coronavirus? Here’s what you need to know. Everything you need to know about coronavirus and grief The HuffPost guide to working from home What coronavirus questions are on your mind right now? We want to help you find answers. Everyone deserves accurate information about COVID-19. Support journalism without a paywall — and keep it free for everyone — by becoming a HuffPost member today. Download Calling all HuffPost superfans! Sign up for membership to become a founding member and help shape HuffPost’s next chapter Join HuffPost