Three pro-gun activist brothers are heading private Facebook groups that are organizing protests against lockdowns across the country.
The Washington Post first reported that the three brothers, named Ben Dorr, Christopher Dorr, and Aaron Dorr, were behind several state-specific Facebook pages calling for lockdown protests. Business Insider confirmed that these men were listed as admins on the groups mentioned in the Post report.
Ben Dorr on Wednesday created the group Wisconsinites Against Excessive Quarantine, and by Sunday night it had amassed more than 99,000 members. Aaron Dorr created New Yorkers Against Excessive Quarantine, which had about 24,000 members by Sunday night, while Christopher Dorr created two groups: Pennsylvanians Against Excessive Quarantine, which had more than 65,000 members on Sunday evening, and Ohioans Against Excessive Quarantine, which had more than 14,000 members by Sunday evening.
The Dorr brothers manage several pro-gun groups that seek to discredit organizations like the NRA as too compromising on gun safety.
The online activity instigated by the brothers boosts the impression that opposition to the quarantine restrictions is greater than polling shows it is. Nearly 70% of Republicans support a stay at home order, and 95% of Democrats backed the measures in a recent Quinniapac poll.
The Facebook groups spout misinformation, comparing the virus to the flu and questioning the intentions of scientists.
While the Trump administration outlined guidelines for states to reopen safely, Trump himself urges demonstrations against some state lawmakers, including Virginia who he claimed had the Second Amendment “under siege.”
Facebook said Sunday it did not remove the groups or events partly because states have not outlawed the activity. Organizers also have called for “drive-in” protests, in keeping with recommendations that people keep a short distance between each other. In other cases, involving protests planned for states like New Jersey and California, the company has removed that content, Facebook said.
“Unless government prohibits the event during this time, we allow it to be organized on Facebook. For this same reason, events that defy government’s guidance on social distancing aren’t allowed on Facebook,” said Andy Stone, a spokesman for the company.