As the U.S. death toll from Covid-19 climbed toward 100,000 and congressional Republicans continued “pumping the brakes” on further relief spending, a coalition of advocacy groups on Wednesday held a “National Day of Mourning” to protest the GOP’s inadequate response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Activists across the country are holding a mass #NationalFuneral to hold the Trump administration and Republican elected officials accountable for their failure to protect people from Covid-19,” the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) Action, one of the organizations behind the protests, explained on Twitter.
The goal of the national mobilization was not only accountability for GOP leaders but also to demand more federal relief, according to CPD Action. Protesters pressured lawmakers and the White House to address persistent concerns about employment, health insurance, housing, and hunger related to the pandemic.
Funeral-like protests were organized in over 20 states and the nation’s capital. Many of the actions resembled a similar demonstration in late April that involved a motorcade protest between the White House and President Donald Trump’s infamous hotel in Washington, D.C. where activists laid out fake body bags and signs that read “Trump lies, people die.”
A funeral procession was planned for 5 pm Wednesday, beginning at the D.C. residence of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), passing by Trump International Hotel, and ending at the White House—where activists intended to lay down more body bags. As of press time, the U.S. had over 1.5 million confirmed Covid-19 cases and over 92,600 deaths.
Ahead of the D.C. demonstration, actions involving body bags, coffins, motorcades, and protest signs were held across the country Wednesday. Participants, reporters, and supporters shared photos and videos on social media with the hashtags #DayofMourning, #NationalFuneral, #TrumpCovidFails, and #TrumpLiesPeopleDie:
In a tweet Wednesday, CPD Action called on lawmakers to support the $3 trillion Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act that the Democrat-majority House passed on Friday.
Although progressives have criticized the HEROES Act as inadequate, it would provide some much needed funding and support, including another one-time $1,200 payment for adults who earn up to $75,000, $25 billion for the U.S. Postal Service, $175 billion in housing support, and nearly $1 trillion for local, state, and tribal governments. The legislation would also create a hazard pay fund for frontline workers, boost spending on Covid-19 testing, expand food stamps, extend stronger unemployment benefits, and require that all Americans be allowed to vote by mail beginning in November.
“The truth is that while a significant step in the right direction, the bill does not go far enough to provide urgently needed economic relief to the millions of people who lost their income and whose families are now standing in food lines,” Ana Maria Archila, co-executive director of the CPD, said in a statement Friday. “We must fight for legislation that upholds their dignity and protects their lives.”
However, even House Democrats’ approved legislation seems unlikely to be passed by the Republican-controlled Senate. After a Tuesday meeting with Vice President Mike Pence, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), McConnell told CNN about a possible fourth coronavirus relief package that “we’ll discuss a way forward in the next couple weeks.” McCarthy said he does not see the need for passing more relief legislation “right now.”
As people nationwide took to the streets Wednesday for protests challenging GOP inaction, an online #NamingTheLost vigil began at 2pm to honor those in the United States who have died from Covid-19. The vigil website says that “they are our siblings, our parents, our children, our nurses and grocery clerks, our first responders and teachers, they are the working people who do the essential work of keeping our families and communities safe.”
“We know it didn’t have to be this way, that our country’s leaders made choices that risked our lives. We know we can choose a different way forward that is about caring for all of us,” the website continues. “But before we can make the future, we must come together in mourning, united across our differences, to recognize and grieve for the lives lost.”