Activists laid body bags outside the White House Wednesday evening to protest what they consider to be President Donald Trump and Republican officials’ catastrophic response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The demonstration started with a mock 200-car funeral procession beginning at the residence of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), passing by the Capitol building, and ending at the White House, where demonstrators dumped body bags onto the sidewalk.
“Trump Lies, People Die,” read signs affixed to the body bags, meant to symbolize the nearly 100,000 people in the U.S. killed so far in the pandemic.
Religious leaders delivered eulogies, while other demonstrators gave speeches about loved ones they’ve lost to the virus.
The protest was part of a nationwide “Day of Mourning” organized by a coalition of progressive groups, including the Center for Popular Democracy, Indivisible, National Domestic Workers Alliance and MoveOn. Similar demonstrations took place in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Texas and other states.
More demonstrations will take place throughout the week and will include mock funeral motorcades outside the office of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in Columbia, South Carolina, and outside a property owned by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner in Bedminster, New Jersey.
“Tens of thousands of those deaths are due to the inaction and chaotic leadership of the Trump Administration and Republican elected officials across the country,” the progressive groups said in a statement. “Nearly 35 million people have also lost their jobs, and people of color are disproportionately suffering. Meanwhile, the president and Republicans are reopening states while claiming there is no rush to pass sweeping relief measures such as the HEROES Act.”
The protests come as the death toll continues to climb in the United States, reaching over 92,000 on Wednesday, and as the president comes under scrutiny for his handling of the crisis. An alarming Columbia University study published this week found that 36,000 lives could have been saved if the Trump administration had enacted lockdown measures just one week earlier than it did in March.
“We think that [Trump] didn’t act fast enough,” Jennifer Walker Flynn, a senior director at the Center for Popular Democracy, told HuffPost Wednesday. “When he acted, he didn’t create a unified plan or a coordinated plan at the federal level. Instead, he created chaos. He’s sewn divisions instead of bringing the country together and building unity. And he just continues to ignore science, not understand science, willfully enact policies that endanger public health of people in this country.”
As Flynn and others protested outside the White House Wednesday, Trump met with the governors of Arkansas and Kansas to discuss the coronavirus outbreak. At a press briefing afterward, a reporter told the president that while the U.S. is home to about 4% of the world’s population, it has 30% of the world’s COVID-19 cases.
“What would you have done differently?” the reporter asked the president.
“Well, nothing,” Trump responded.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the governor of Kansas is a Republican. The governor of Kansas is a Democrat.
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