The anti-quarantine protests seem spontaneous. But behind the scenes, a powerful network is helping. - 2020-04-22
The ads on Facebook sounded populist and passionate: "The people are rising up against these insane shutdowns," they said. "We're fighting back to demand that our elected officials reopen America."
But the posts, funded by an initiative called Convention of States, were not the product of a grass-roots uprising alone. Instead, they represented one salvo in a wide-ranging and well-financed conservative campaign to undermine restrictions that medical experts say are necessary to contain the coronavirus — but that protesters call overkill and whose economic fallout could damage President Trump's political prospects.
A network of right-leaning individuals and groups, aided by nimble online outfits, has helped incubate the fervor erupting in state capitals across the country. The activism is often organic and the frustration deeply felt, but it is also being amplified, and in some cases coordinated, by longtime conservative activists, whose robust operations were initially set up with help from Republican megadonors.