Arrest made as protesters call for North Carolina businesses to reopen

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A group of demonstrators were outside the General Assembly in downtown Raleigh Tuesday morning calling for businesses to reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some held signs that say “Reopen NC” while another had a sign that reads “Freedom is not free.”

Another had a sign with “#ReopenNC #Tyranny.”

Raleigh police were on scene – telling the demonstrators they were in violation of the executive order.

Many went to the vehicles where they blared their car horns non-stop. Some began to drive around the block while laying on their car horns.

Around 12:20 p.m., officers used a bullhorn to tell the crowd they risked arrest by being in attendance.

Just after 12:30 p.m., Raleigh officers could be seen leading a woman away in handcuffs.

While being led away, she told WNCN’s Michael Hyland “These officers are just doing their jobs, I am just doing mine.”

Monica Faith Ussery

She was later identified as Monica Faith Ussery, 51, who lives just outside Holly Springs.

She faces a charge of violating an executive order.

Raleigh police said the scene was cleared just before 1:30 p.m.

The demonstration comes a day after Gov. Roy Cooper discussed North Carolina’s future in terms of lifting his executive orders aimed at combating the spread of the coronavirus.

Cooper said lifting his executive orders now to combat COVID-19 would be a “catastrophe,” as experts say it would increase the likelihood of hospitals exceeding capacity next month.

The governor made the comments Monday as a social media campaign is underway using the hashtag #ReopenNC, with organizers calling for Cooper to immediately suspend the executive orders.

“We continue to see the spread of the virus accelerate through North Carolina but at a much slower pace because people are following the executive orders on social distancing,” Cooper said. “These models show consistently that our executive orders work and that wholesale lifting of those orders would be a catastrophe.”

New restrictions on retailers such as grocery and home improvement stores went into effect Monday evening, requiring them to limit the number of people inside, mark six feet of space at checkout counters and busy areas and to disinfect regularly.

Unemployment claims supposed 500,000 last week in North Carolina with the vast majority of those being connected to the pandemic.

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