Protestors of state shutdown spotted in Rochester

May 3, 2020

ROCHESTER — A small crowd gathered at Rochester Town Hall on May 3 to protest Governor Charlie Baker’s decision to close the state.  

Baker announced April 21 that all non-essential businesses will be closed until May 18 due to the spread of coronavirus. The state has over 66,000 confirmed cases and over 3,800 deaths as of May 2.

The protest was organized by Rochester Planning Board member Ben Bailey, who said the governor “couldn’t possibly understand” the impacts on small businesses like the Bendrix Corporate Commercial real estate company which he owns.

The gathering of about 20 people waved signs at passing cars, with some drivers waving in support, and others responding with obscene gestures. 

The protestors believe social distancing measures and wearing masks in public are okay, but closing businesses is an overreach of power by the state.

One attendee was Melissa Pechey of Wareham. As the owner of the Matrix Salon in her hometown, she said she was afraid to “speak differently than the rest of society,” but felt the need to be there after seeing crowded corporate stores deemed essential and being denied government aid for her business.

There were no counter-protestors, but many who opposed the event voiced their concerns on Facebook. Various first responders expressed their concerns with the event in a post promoting it on “the Other Rochester Group” that garnered over 290 comments.

One user, who pointed out the steady increase in cases said, “I feel like a good kid losing recess time because all the other kids want to act out.”

Matthew Brache of Rochester brought his sons, Gabe and Isaiah to protest.

Gabe, who attends Rochester Memorial School, said it was weird to be out of school because, “it's going to be a whole half-year” of not being in the building.

Bailey said he hopes protests will begin in nearby communities and plans to be at Town Hall every Sunday until regulations are relaxed.