With the protests to end the lockdowns, the main pictures I've seen in my social media bubble have been ones with signs like " I need a haircut" or " Let my People Golf". So it's not surprising that people would be writing responses like annacaffeina's:

People aren't out protesting to be waitresses and hairdressers again. People are out demanding that their waitresses and hairdressers go back to work. The idea is to force the service industry to serve them despite the risk to the servers.

This seemed unlikely to me: the financial strain of not being able to work is something I've seen my conservative friends posting about a lot. Since the signs we see are generally coming through multiple layers of filters, primarily for being interesting and controversial, I wanted to try and get a more representative sample of what people actually had on their signs.

I ran an image search for [reopen protests] and looked for pictures that had a lot of signs. I picked ones that had as many legible signs as possible, and where it didn't look like the photographer was trying to feature a specific sign. I ended up with the text of 71 signs.

Most of the signs were generic pro-reopening ones ("Reopen NC", "Stop the Shutdown"). The most common theme was the constitution ("Gov't can't Suspend the Constitution", "1st Amendment - The right to peacably assemble", "We The People") with nine signs, followed by references to tyranny ("Tyranny Is When You Restrict The Movement Of Healthy People", "Tyranny Calls Itself Safety") and freedom ("Free People Make Free Choices", "We Demand Freedom") with six each.

On the motivating question, I counted four signs about wanting to work ("Let Us Work / Let Us Live", "Re-Open NC /Let Us Get Back To Work", "We Want to Work", and "If It Pleases The Crown May We Go To Work"), three about wanting to let others work for their own benefit ("We can do Both / Save Lives / Save Jobs", "Poverty Kills", "Let'Em Work / Let'Em Live"), and none about wanting others to go back to work for one's own benefit.

Here's the full list:

Wyoming Protest (18):

  • Reopen Wyoming Now!!
  • Re-open Wyoming
  • We can do Both
    Save Lives
    Save Jobs
  • Stop the Shutdown
  • God Gives Gov't Takes
  • Life of Lock-up
  • Gov't can't Suspend the Constitution
  • Stop following other States
    Wyoming is full of Leaders
    Let's Lead
  • Faith Over Fear
  • Keep Wyoming Economy Open
  • Open
  • Poverty Kills
  • Spread Facts not fear
  • My Constitutional Rights are Essential
  • 1st Amendment - The right to peacably assemble
  • Your Solution is worse than the problem
  • Free People Make Free Choices
  • All Businesses are Essential
North Carolina Protest (14):

  • #ReopenNC
    America Strong
  • Let Us Work
    Let Us Live
  • Reopen Our Lives
  • Reopen NC
  • Freedom Over Fear
  • Re-Open NC
    Let Us Get Back To Work
  • Absolute Power Corrupts!
  • Reopen NC
  • Losing Your Rights
    Preventable Disease
  • Facts Not Fear
    Reopen NC
  • More Harm Then Good
  • Every Business Is Essential
  • We The People
  • Free People Make Their Own Risk Assessments #ReopenNC
More North Carolina (21):
  • You Woke a Sleeping Giant
  • Tyranny Calls Itself Safety
  • Shutdown Is Tyranny
  • Shutdown Is Based On Lies!!
  • Reopen Now
  • No Mandatory Vaccines
  • ReOpen with GA, TN, SC
  • Fear God Not Covid
  • Do Not Consent to Tyranny
  • Re-Open NC
  • Reopen Our State Before Its Too Late
  • Obedience To A Lying Government Is Not Virtue
  • You Are In Violation Of My Constitutional Rights
  • Make America Constitutional Again
  • We the People Want To #ReopenNC
  • Just Say No Socialism
    By We The People
  • No Fauci
    No Gates
    No Vaccine
  • Let'Em Work
    Let'Em Live
  • My Rights Are Essential #ReopenNC
  • Stop Gov'T Overreach
  • Freedom Is Essential
    Politicians Are Not
Florida Protest (11):

  • Re-Open Florida
  • Never accept the Government Infringing Upon Your Freedom As Necessary or Justified
  • Plandemic
  • Small Business is Essential #ReopenFL
  • When Tyranny Becomes Law Rebellion Becomes Duty #ReopenUSA
  • Stay Home
    Promote Unemployment
  • Tyranny Is When You Restrict The Movement Of Healthy People
  • There Is No Virus Clause In The Constitition Reopen Florida
  • Don't Tread On Me
  • Trump Pence
  • Fauci Lied About Death Toll & Oppressed America For Pharma-Tyranny Nazism
Minnesota Protest (7):
  • Open
  • Stay Home MN [in a red circle with a line through it]
  • Free The Humans
  • We Want to Work
  • If It Pleases The Crown May We Go To Work
  • We Demand Freedom
  • Planned Parenthood Is Not Essential
    Open Minnesota
    Facts + Faith Over Fear

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4 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 3:56 PM

Some of those waitresses and hairdressers need money to pay for mortgage and food. People who don't get that, really should check their privilege. Not everyone is a remotely-working software developer.

Golf actually seems quite harmless to me, as long as the players wear face masks. In open air, not large crowds. But I am afraid that "golf" is mostly an euphemism for "football" here.

"Stop following other States / Let's Lead" -- definitely save this picture for its future memetic potential, if Wyoming happens to surpass New York in the number of COVID deaths.


I mostly feel bad about people who want to protect their health, but will be forced by their employers to interact with people without wearing face masks.

It would be nice to restart businesses without sacrificing safety, but this world doesn't work like that. (My gut says that the lady complaining about needing a haircut would be the first to complain if her hairdresser wore a face mask at job. And the hairdresser needs the money to pay for mortgage and food...)


It's worth noting that what someone puts on a sign doesn't necessarily indicate what they really care most about, especially if what's on the sign is more socially acceptable than what they really care about. So I don't think the findings here are inconsistent with what annacaffeina says. (They are probably, albeit not very strong, evidence against what she says, though. Only "probably" because it could be that the other sign-slogans -- especially the more generically-political ones -- are evidence about the sort of person waving the sign; maybe some of those slogans are more characteristic of wealthier people who want the service industry serving them again than of poorer service-industry employees who want to be at work again.)

Thanks for this! I don't agree with the protesters and my gut reaction is that they get too much attention. However, uncovering truth is always worthwhile.

Wow, that is a really toxic and hateful Tumblr post. I don’t think it’s worth this sort of respectful response.