CROWN POINT — Approximately 200 men, women and children took to the streets Saturday to protest against COVID-19 prevention measures and to display their continuing loyalty to Donald Trump.
Participants at the "Rally for Freedom" lined the streets surrounding the old Lake County Courthouse in downtown Crown Point for some two hours carrying dozens of flags, banners, and handwritten signs displaying support or opposition to a wide variety of issues.
Face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19? "Tyranny." The COVID-19 vaccine? "Nazi science." COVID-19 itself? "The final COVID variant is called communism." Facts? "Don't drink the Kool-Aid."
Many in the unmasked crowd proudly touted their unvaccinated status on signs and T-shirts, and seemed indifferent to the presence of numerous children under age 12 (many playing on the old courthouse lawn) who currently cannot be inoculated against the coronavirus.
At the same time, there was widespread exuberance for Republican former President Donald Trump, even though Trump regularly takes credit for speeding the development of the COVID-19 vaccines the rally participants falsely insisted cannot be trusted.
Several individuals on the east side of the old courthouse held poles flying large flags reading "Trump 2020," "Trump 2024," "Don't Blame Me, I Voted For Trump," and "F--- Biden," profanely referring to the current Democratic president of the United States, Joe Biden.
One woman with a megaphone alternately announced "God loves you" and "Trump loves you" to people attempting to patronize the businesses on the courthouse square.
The rally had no formal program or featured speakers. But there still was plenty of noise as rally participants repeatedly urged motorists in passing cars and trucks to show their support by honking their horns and for motorcyclists to rev their engines.
Occasionally drivers heading north on Main Street would stick their middle finger out their windows. In response, the rally crowd would shout "USA, USA, USA" until the vehicle passed Clark Street.
It's unlikely anyone was persuaded by the demonstration, since most other people on the square simply were trying to enjoy lunch outside restaurants despite the cacophony of people shouting, car horns sounding, and motorcycle engines firing.
Ron Vitoux, of Lowell, shook his head as he watched people carrying Trump flags across the street from his seat on a motorbike in the alley adjacent to the Provecho Latin Provisions restaurant.
"All this energy wasted. The people voted; I don't know what they don't understand," Vitoux said. "But that's America, I guess. They have the right to speak."
Matt Shipanik, of Crown Point, boldly wore a face mask as he walked up and down Main Street across from the rallygoers to "people watch."
"It's Indiana, so this is kind of what I expected," Shipanik said. "But I think it's disappointing to see people this mad about progress and trying to get to the other end of this pandemic."
"Everybody should do their part," he added.
According to the Indiana Department of Health, a total of 62,690 Lake County residents have been infected with COVID-19 since March 17, 2020, and 1,087 Lake County residents have died because of the virus in the past 18 months.
There currently are 232 individuals hospitalized in Northwest Indiana due to COVID-19 and nearly all recent virus cases in the Region are the more contagious delta variant of the coronavirus, state data show.
Individuals age 12 and up can protect themselves from the coronavirus by getting a free COVID-19 vaccine without an appointment at just about any retail pharmacy, health clinic, or hospital in Northwest Indiana.
A complete list of the state's 1,089 free vaccination sites is available online at ourshot.in.gov.