The Convention of States, an activist network with tea party origins, did not originate the coronavirus lockdown protests across the country. But it’s got a plan to take them to the next level.
Publicly, the group claims no affiliation with the organizers agitating for state governments to lift social-distancing measures. Yet behind the scenes and on their social media channels, the group’s leaders have made no secret of their desire to boost the protests, if not elevate them to a bigger, more professionalized and media-friendly network with a more broadly appealing message.
Over the past several weeks, the group has scooped up dozens of URLs for sites aimed at organizing future protests in key states — OpenWINow.com, opencalifornianow.com, openfloridanow.com, openarizonanow.com. On private forums, activists affiliated with the Convention of States are coordinating their own protests. And in Facebook livestreams, the organization’s leader has been advising protesters to avoid divisive features that marked some early lockdown protests: stand apart from each other, bring hand sanitizer, and, most importantly, do not openly carry guns, even if you’re protesting in an open-carry state.
You want to create a narrative that says, ‘Those people look like they’re using common sense. I want to be one of them,’” said Mark Meckler, president of the Convention of States, in a Tuesday livestream.