Rally organizer Steve Craven made clear that the day of music and celebration of liberty, under the banner of his “We the People” organization, wasn’t of the so-called new normal that’s unfolding with the waning of the coronavirus pandemic.
Craven, of Ford City, slated the daylong event — equal parts concert and picnic — at Iselin Community Park as a “peaceful protest upholding out Constitutional rights and freedoms that are being violated,” according to promotional announcements for the event.
Motorcycles and pickup trucks ruled the parking lot. Flags adorned the stage and the participants by way of hats and T-shirts, do-rags and even a doggy bandana sported by a pooch named Thunder who seemed to make friends with every soul on the scene.
“Education,” Craven said, was the mission of the day. His call was for the audience to read more, learn more and talk more about the flipside of the COVID-19 outbreak and the state government imposed restrictions on commerce and culture.
“This so-called virus — they’re trying to scare the (expletive) out of you,” Craven told revelers between musical acts. “What’s happening today is they don’t like this; they don’t want me to be talking to you and they don’t want you to be talking to me because … we have a little bit of hope that the world’s going to be a better place because we are all together right now, right?
“Take a few seconds to think about that. They tried to lock us in our homes and keep us from seeing each other. Because when we’re together we become stronger. We become an army. …
“And we start questioning this. And again I’m no politician — I’m just trying to have a life and enjoy my friends. And a bunch of rich politicians are trying to take that away. It’s not about money any more for them, it’s about power. ‘Wear the mask. Wear the mask.’”
Most apparently had already heard the message. Not a facemask was to be seen among the estimated 60 folks celebrating the warm sunny day.
Entertainers were on board. The duo Suffocate offered a 40-minute set of covers ranging from Gotye to Guns & Roses.
“It’s good to see everyone that has the testicular fortitude to show up at an event like this!” singer Matthew Wilmont stirred the crowd.
Sunshine and warmth accommodated the protest/concert. Many returned whoops of agreement when Craven and the performers exhorted their celebration as an exercise of the First Amendment.
Businesses shouldn’t have been shut down and people shouldn’t have been told to stay home — to the extent that they were, Craven said, suggesting that the pandemic’s true effect was exaggerated.
Senior citizens in long term care facilities have fallen victim, he acknowledged, and preventive efforts should be concentrated on protecting those in rest homes.
Craven told revelers to write letters to county coroners and ask them to stand up to what he called health officials’ efforts to spin death statistics to artificially inflate the numbers of people who died of coronavirus infection. He cited the arguments that some coroners have advocated, that the deaths of patients with debilitating long-term illnesses should be attributed to those ailments, such as cancer. Their conditions may have been worsened and their deaths may have been hastened, but not caused by COVID-19, he said.
“I’m not drinking that Kool Aid, man,” Craven said.