Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) joined a large gathering of protesters in Harrisburg on Wednesday, just weeks after slamming local leaders and business owners as “cowardly” for moving to reopen their counties and businesses outside of his far-reaching lockdown orders.
Wolf, who threatened business owners who signaled they would move to reopen their businesses outside of his guidelines, marched with protesters in Harrisburg on Wednesday, seemingly unbothered by the stark violations to his own orders.
Dauphin County, home of Harrisburg, moved to the yellow phase last week, which prohibits large gatherings of more than 25:
I want Pennsylvanians to — as safely as possible — get back to the activities they most enjoy.
— Governor Tom Wolf (@GovernorTomWolf) May 30, 2020
Photos show Wolf congregating with a large crowd, which is prohibited under the yellow phase of reopening. Another participant in the background can be seen holding a sign reading, “Blue Lives Murder”:
I’m at today’s March Against Injustice and Gun Violence 2020 in Harrisburg in solidarity with our community.
Black lives matter. Racism must end. I am here to listen. pic.twitter.com/MoTYi7AtuW
— Governor Tom Wolf (@GovernorTomWolf) June 3, 2020
Governor Wolf is walking with protestors in Harrisburg. I asked him what he and his administration will be doing outside of just marching in a Black Lives Matter protest. Hear his response today on @Fox43 at 4&5. pic.twitter.com/wrBiV86pfS
— Chelsea Koerbler (@ChelseaKoerbler) June 3, 2020
Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine, the nation’s first openly transgender public health secretary, defended Wolf’s seeming violation of his own orders and warnings.
“Can you clarify the administration’s position. May 11 business owners were called cowards for wanting to reopen their businesses, and today the governor is actually marching in that. Is that not in violation of your order and his order for large gatherings?” a reporter asked.
“The governor has always said that people have the right to protest and to demonstrate and the right of free speech,” Levine, whose birth name is Richard, said.
“And so overall, we want large gatherings — such as maybe a party or some type of concert — to be under 250 people. But we are not restricting people’s right to protest,” Levine continued.
“There are obviously significant social issues, you know, that are present that people feel that they need to have a voice, and so the governor is always supportive of that and is participating in that,” he added:
This is why you have reporters at press conferences. Levine is asked about @GovernorTomWolf calling officials coward and then marching today in Harrisburg. Wait for the end. pic.twitter.com/6VkaYyMpwr
— Real_Dave_La_Torre 🍿 (@David_LaTorre) June 3, 2020
Wolf made waves last month after accusing business owners and leaders, clamoring to reopen amid his restrictions, of engaging in a “cowardly act.” He also said that lawmakers “urging businesses to risk their lives and risk the lives of their customers or their employees by opening prematurely” were “engaging in behavior that is both selfish and unsafe.”
“To those politicians who decide to cave in to this coronavirus, they need to understand the consequences of their cowardly act,” Wolf said, lecturing business owners as well.
“By opening before the evidence suggests you should, you’re taking undue risks with the safety of your customers,” the governor warned.
“That’s not only morally wrong; that’s also really bad business,” he continued, threatening them with the loss of their health department certificate, liquor license, or certificate of occupancy.