Phoenix protesters target coronavirus restrictions with rally inside state capitol

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Protesters held a rally inside Arizona’s state capitol Monday afternoon to protest what they’re calling the government’s overreach in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The crowd had gathered hours earlier at Phoenix’s Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza, half a block from the state’s capitol building, to protest Gov. Doug Ducey’s order closing nonessential businesses and requiring people to stay home.

Protesters calling to 're-open' Arizona at a rally Monday in Phoenix. 

Protesters calling to 're-open' Arizona at a rally Monday in Phoenix.  (AP)

A few hundred people attended the “Patriots’ Day Rally,” Phoenix’s Fox 10 reported. The protesters flew American flags and held up signs reading “defend the constitution,” and “fight tyranny.”

The participants were largely ignoring social distancing rules, and few wore masks, the outlet reported.

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The protesters later moved to the Arizona State Capitol, moving past officers and a handful of masked nurses protesting the rally.

Gathering on the front lawn, some protesters broke into chants of “Open Arizona.” Video of the protesters inside the state capitol showed them waving American flags and chanting, “U-S-A.”

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The protests followed similar demonstrations across the United States by mostly conservative groups and supporters of President Trump.

Protests have been staged around the country, including in California, Michigan, Virginia and elsewhere.