Reopen NC rally planned Saturday in downtown Salisbury

Published 7:00 pm Thursday, April 30, 2020

By Liz Moomey

SALISBURY — Local supporters of the Reopen NC movement have organized a protest 11 a.m. Saturday at the Rowan County Courthouse.

Elizabeth Hilton, the organizer, said the protest is to be “a voice to get our county to reopen” and a response to the governor’s stay-at-home order during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hilton said she has permits for Saturday’s protest and that protesters will practice social distancing.

“I understand this virus,” Hilton said. “We just can’t live in fear. We have to get back to some type of normal.”

Gov. Roy Cooper’s order last week was extended to May 9. The order allows for essential businesses to stay open, —  grocery stores, pharmacies, hardware stores and restaurants that provide take-out, drive-thru or delivery — as well as some non-essential businesses that abide by social distancing rules. 

Hilton said she believes the governor has overstepped with his stay-at-home order by determining what is essential and non-essential.

She said her church has a drive-thru service, but it is not the same as assembling.

“Church has always been our life,” Hilton said. “We’ve always been involved in church.”

She wants government officials to outline what they are doing to get the county and state reopen. Hilton said she has talked to Rowan County Commission Chair Greg Edds and Salisbury Mayor Pro Tem Al Heggins about their plans. Hilton also reached out to Salisbury Mayor Karen Alexander but has not been successful with receiving a response.

Hilton’s preference is individual counties deciding how to reopen and “put the power in their hands.” She has concerns Cooper will extend the order further. 

Hilton said she attended a Reopen NC protest in Raleigh. She called it chaotic and did not want the Rowan County version to escalate like the statewide protest.

She and her family will not be wearing facial coverings Saturday. And she said doing so is a personal choice. She said vulnerable populations should use common sense during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Hilton said she hasn’t been personally impacted by the economic impacts of the stay-at-home order, but other families have been devastated by a loss of jobs.

According to the Reopen NC Facebook page, it’s a peaceful action group created April 7. The group has more than 71,000 members and has rallied twice in downtown Raleigh to urge the state to reopen. Other local protests are planned, including Reopen Meck at noon Friday in uptown Charlotte. The local Reopen NC – Rowan group has about 100 members.