“I call these people the modern-day Rosa Parks — they are protesting against injustice and a loss of liberties," Stephen Moore said

By Adam Carlson
April 20, 2020 04:47 PM
Stephen Moore
Credit: Samuel Corum/Getty

An ally and occasional adviser of President Donald Trump said those protesting coronavirus restrictions were “the modern-day Rosa Parks,” referring to the icon of the civil rights movement who refused to give up her bus seat.

Stephen Moore made his comments in a Washington Post article published Friday.

“I think there’s a boiling point that has been reached and exceeded,” Moore, an economist and conservative commentator who Trump unsuccessfully tried to nominate to the board of the Federal Reserve last year, told the Post.

“I call these people the modern-day Rosa Parks — they are protesting against injustice and a loss of liberties,” Moore said.

While he does not work in the White House, Moore has been advising the president on economic issues surrounding the coronavirus.

He was talking about recent protests in some states against stay-at-home orders that health experts say slow new infections of the novel coronavirus while researchers work on treatments and a vaccine.

Even as polling shows these orders are popular nationwide, in some areas some residents are pushing back because they say they need to get back to work despite the virus’ threat.

coronavirus briefing
President Donald Trump
| Credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty

Some states have also imposed more strict orders than others. In Michigan, for example, between 3,000 and 4,000 protestors turned out last week over what they said were excessive restrictions on travel, certain kinds of recreation and shopping. For example, motorboating is restricted and large stores must limit what they sell — no furniture; no garden centers — in order to limit shoppers.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has argued, in response, that the contagiousness of the virus required her to make tough decisions about when people should go into public and when they should stay home.

In Michigan and elsewhere, the protests have taken on a conservative bent — something President Trump underlined when he tweeted last week to “LIBERATE” (in all-caps) three states with Democratic governors who have imposed stay-home restrictions to combat the virus. In one tweet, Trump also alluded to “sav[ing] your great 2nd Amendment.”

How and how quickly to reopen businesses and resume normal public gatherings remains one of the most pressing — and thorniest — questions for states to answer.

Experts say that in order to return to normal, robust testing and contact tracing systems will be needed to contain future outbreaks before they spiral out of control.

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Asked at Sunday’s coronavirus briefing whether his rhetoric was inflammatory to the point of violence, Trump said he didn’t think it was.

He praised the stay-at-home protestors, saying, “These are great people. … They’ve got cabin fever. They want to get back. They want their life back.”

“I think these people are — I’ve never seen so many American flags,” Trump continued. (Some protest attendees reportedly were also seen waving Confederate flags.)

Appearing on Fox News on Monday, White House aide Kellyanne Conway said the administration wanted protestors to still practice social distancing and wear face masks.

Moore did not respond to a request for comment from PEOPLE submitted through his website.