Driving Around Gains Popularity As Virus-Era Protest Vehicle (1)

(Updated with comment from event organizer.)

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A protest technique that tied up traffic in Michigan will get a different spin in Ohio on Friday.

A group that advocates on behalf of prison inmates says it’s gathering “100-plus cars and motorcycles in a parade and protest” to urge Gov. Mike DeWine (R) to release up to 20,000 of the state’s nearly 49,000 prisoners.

While DeWine prepares to open Ohio businesses May 1, coronavirus cases among the state’s prison population have spiked, with 3,792 confirmed cases and 33,087 inmates being kept “in quarantine” according to data released Wednesday by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Correction.

The Ohio Organizing Collaborative’s protest plan mirrors a “gridlock” rally held in Michigan and other states last week to clog the streets in front of state Capitol buildings to demonstrate against restrictions put in place to thwart the spread of coronavirus.

The Lansing event attracted national attention, both because hundreds of protesters flouted social-distancing rules and because of organizers’ ties to national conservative groups.

Event organizer Chazidy Bowman, wife of a prison inmate, couldn’t pinpoint from where her group got the idea for a drive-in protest.

“We figured, we have to be able to do something where everybody is safe,” she said in a telephone interview. “We can’t get together, but we can honk horns, and we can ride loud motorcycles, and people are very responsive to it.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Ebert in Columbus, Ohio at aebert@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tina May at tmay@bloomberglaw.com; Katherine Rizzo at krizzo@bgov.com

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