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Sun May 24, 2020, 09:48 AM

Anti-Lockdown Protests Originated With Tight-Knit Group Who Share Bigger Goal: Trump 2020 (Snopes)

The driving force behind Michigan's anti-lockdown protests — and their connections to the family of Betsy DeVos — is even more complex than we initially thought.

Alex Kasprak
Bethania Palma

Published 20 May 2020

Organizers of “Operation Gridlock,” the first significant protest against the lockdown measures issued by state governments in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, urged participants to remain in their vehicles as they halted traffic around the Capitol Building in Lansing, Michigan, on April 15, 2020. Two weeks later, alongside many of the same people who promoted those actions, protesters not only left their cars but entered that building, flanked by armed militias demanding that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer open the government and allow residents the freedom to return to work.

Competing narratives have emerged surrounding this anti-lockdown movement, which has spread across the country and increasingly come to embrace anti-government conspiracy theories, dangerous pseudoscience, and occasional threats or acts of violence. To its supporters, the movement represents a grassroots expression of patriotic discontent over unconstitutional measures that infringe on liberty and cause economic hardship. To its detractors, the movement inflates perceived opposition to life-saving public health measures with help from dark money tied to the family of U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Several media reports have previously linked Operation Gridlock to the influential DeVos family through an organization tangentially funded by them, which purchased $250 in Facebook advertisements to promote the April 15 event. While this connection is largely factual, it is quantitatively negligible and, more importantly, misses the bigger picture.

By combining a sometimes second-by-second chronology of which users shared Facebook invites to the protests with hundreds of pages of campaign-finance records and local news reports, Snopes demonstrates that this anti-lockdown movement was originally pushed by a small circle of fervent activists who have been protesting almost constantly since well before the onset of the pandemic. Furthermore, they have benefited from a political action infrastructure originally created to support the DeVos-funded, anti-union “right-to-work” movement. These methods have apparently created the perception of widespread discontent with public health measures largely supported by the American populace and are part of a campaign playbook self-evidently resulting in an increasingly radicalized base of Trump supporters as the 2020 general election approaches.
The DeVos Political Machine and the Michigan Freedom Fund

Betsy DeVos’ family — whose wealth stems from father-in-law Richard DeVos’ success in creating and running the multi-level marketing company Amway — has financed libertarian political causes with an influence comparable to the Koch brothers’ for decades. The children of Richard DeVos, Sr. and their families, through at least five separate foundations, generally provide much of this financial support in a coordinated way as a family unit. To get a sense of the scale of their political involvement, note that in 2015 and 2016 the DeVos family made $14 million in political contributions, including substantial funding to the Michigan state Republican Party and other county-level GOP chapters.
more (w/lots o' links): https://www.snopes.com/news/2020/05/20/michigan-lockdown-protesters/

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Reply Anti-Lockdown Protests Originated With Tight-Knit Group Who Share Bigger Goal: Trump 2020 (Snopes) (Original post)
eppur_se_muova May 2020 OP
captain queeg May 2020 #1

Response to eppur_se_muova (Original post)

Sun May 24, 2020, 10:04 AM

1. Not surprised there is a (distant) relationship with Amway

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