Disturbing story behind 'zombie' photo amid coronavirus chaos

·News Reporter
·4-min read

A shocking photo of angry protestors in America during the coronavirus lockdown has been likened to a scene from a zombie movie.

The image, taken by photographer Joshua Bickel, shows a crowd of protestors yelling outside the Statehouse Atrium in the US state of Ohio on Monday.

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Reporters had just heard an update on how the state was going to respond to the coronavirus pandemic when the protestors, including state senate candidate Melissa Ackison pictured on the left, were snapped in full voice.

The protestors are calling for an end to lockdown procedures put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19.

That’s despite the fact the US has more than 670,000 confirmed cases of the virus and 33,000 deaths.

Ohio state senate candidate Melissa Ackison, left, and other protesters stand outside the Statehouse Atrium where reporters listen during the State of Ohio's Coronavirus response update at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio.
Protestors, including Ohio state senate candidate Melissa Ackison (left), call for an end to the lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic outside the Ohio Statehouse. Source: AAP

Mr Bickel told The Columbus Dispatch the group of about 100 to 150 people waited outside as Governor Mike DeWine gave a daily update.

“Once the briefing started, I wasn’t too concerned with making pictures because I was running the livestream of the briefing to the Dispatch’s Facebook page,” he told the paper.

“After about an hour or so, reporters started asking questions and the crowd outside started chanting again, and at some point started banging on some windows briefly.”

‘Open Ohio, tyrants’

Ms Ackison, who was part of the protest, told the paper the lockdowns are “full-on unconstitutional tyranny” and it’s time to “get Ohio back to work”.

“Open Ohio, tyrants,” she tweeted.

“The natives are restless.”

Columbus Blue Jackets fan Darion Schaublin holds up a sign protesting Ohio Governor Mike DeWines decision to ban mass gatherings at the Nationwide Arena.
A man protests bans on mass gatherings in March, calling Ohio Governor Mike DeWine a coward. Source: Getty Images

Ms Ackison said she has “no fear whatsoever” of contracting the virus and has dismissed it as hype.

“As patriots, we put President Trump in office for a reason,” she said.

“If he’s not able to give a convincing enough argument to these governors that they need to open up, then he needs to do something to take action.”

‘Is this real life?’

On Twitter, the Mr Bickel’s photo was compared to something out of a horror movie.

“I thought this was a screen cap from a zombie movie,” one woman tweeted.

Another woman asked, “is this real life?”

“Holy s***,” a man tweeted.

“In two weeks a lot of these people are gonna wish they stayed home,” another man tweeted.

“I’d rather not have had them learn the hard way but it’s like that sometimes.”

‘They’re suffering’

The group, calling for the reopening of businesses, aren’t alone either.

On Wednesday, thousands of Michigan residents blocked traffic in Lansing, the state’s capital, while protesters in Kentucky disrupted Democratic Governor Andy Beshear's afternoon news briefing on the pandemic, chanting "we want to work!"

States including Utah, North Carolina and Ohio also saw demonstrations this week, and more are planned for the coming days, including in Oregon, Idaho and Texas.

Protesters carry rifles near the steps of the Michigan State Capitol building in Lansing, Michigan.
Protesters outside the Michigan State Capitol building in Lansing, Michigan. Source: AAP

In Michigan, where Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer has imposed some of the country's toughest limits on travel and business, some protesters at "Operation Gridlock" wore campaign hats and waved signs supporting US President Donald Trump.

Meshawn Maddock, who organised the rally and is part of the Republican-aligned Michigan Conservative Coalition, said the Trump administration had nothing to do with the rally.

She added militia group members and a man holding a Confederate flag were not part of the Michigan rally either.

When asked about the protests at a press conference on Thursday, Mr Trump said “they’re suffering” and want to return to work.

“I think they’re listening. I think they listen to me,” he said.

“They seem to be protesters that like me and respect this opinion, and my opinion’s the same as just about all of the governors. Nobody wants to stay shut.”

Earlier this week, the president pulled funding for the World Health Organisation.

Polls show the protesters’ views are not widely held.

An AP-NORC survey earlier this month found large majorities of Americans support a long list of government restrictions, including closing schools, limiting gatherings and shuttering bars and restaurants.

Three-quarters of Americans backed requiring people to stay in their homes. And majorities of both Democrats and Republicans gave high marks for the state and city governments.

with Reuters and The Associated Press

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