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PNS Daily News - September 22, 2020 


The Supreme Court vacancy raises stakes for a reproductive-rights campaign; voter-registration deadlines are just around the corner; and the pandemic compounds child-care woes.


2020Talks - September 22, 2020 


It's National Voter Registration Day. Plus, the Supreme Court and abortion are back, center stage, in the election spotlight.

Expert: Despite Political Backdrop, Arresting Stay-at-Home Protesters Risky

In states with Democratic governors, including Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan, protests against stay-at-home orders are being led by organizations aligned with President Donald Trump. (peoplesdispatch.org)
In states with Democratic governors, including Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan, protests against stay-at-home orders are being led by organizations aligned with President Donald Trump. (peoplesdispatch.org)
April 21, 2020

MADISON, Wis. -- Another protest against Wisconsin's "stay-at-home" order is scheduled for Friday. Similar events have been held across the country, and a sociologist says while the politics behind them raise questions, punitive measures aren't safe.

In recent days, demonstrations were held in Brookfield and at the State Capitol by those who say Gov. Tony Evers' extension of a stay-at-home order through late-May is government overreach during the pandemic. University of Wisconsin sociology professor Pamela Oliver said these aren't exactly "organic" movements demanding fair treatment.

"A lot of people are suffering, but I don't think that's why they're protesting," Oliver said. "They're being politically activated."

The protests largely have been organized by groups supported by GOP lawmakers. On Twitter, President Donald Trump has encouraged the messaging of those who say the shelter-in-place orders, especially those in Democratic-led states, bring too much economic harm.

The events have received backlash for having people appear to violate social-distancing orders with no major repercussions. Oliver said while it's justifiable to believe these protesters are being held to a different standard, asking police to come down hard would be counterproductive to stopping the spread of the coronavirus.

She said rounding up protesters would put officers and incarcerated populations at greater risk of infection.

Many have argued that when demonstrations are led by people of color, authorities are more willing to arrest participants. Oliver said there's truth to that argument.

"I think that the perception that whites are treated differently than blacks and Latinx people is, in my view, justified," she said.

Arrests have occurred at protests in certain states. But police agencies have said they have to walk a fine line, protecting free speech and public health. They have said they don't want to incite larger protests during a pandemic by cracking down on violators.

Mike Moen, Public News Service - WI