[PHOTOS BY OWENS DANIELS]

Reopen NC protesters converged in Raleigh on Tuesday for a third week in a row, demanding that Gov. Roy Cooper lift the statewide stay-at-home order. The governor has extended the order through May 6, insisting that North Carolina still needs more time to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Along with those demanding that the state reopen for business, nurses returned to send a message that human health needs to come before economic activity.

“My perspective is I choose life over my livelihood,” said Amber Brown, a Kernersville nurse who counter-protested in her scrubs. “My hours have been cut due to a low census at the hospital. But I have a brother and two nephews who are firefighters. Our lives are worth more than the ability to go to a movie or get a haircut.”

Reopen protesters massed outside the General Assembly, and four were arrested, including cofounder Ashley Smith.

But with the militancy of the protests escalating on Tuesday, the movement is challenged by a schism: On Wednesday, cofounder Kristen Elizabeth announced she’s leaving the movement.

“This movement has taken a turn that we were not in agreement with,” she said. “Ashley acted on her won yesterday with nearly inciting a riot. I have said from the beginning, we are a peaceful action group and I have carried myself that way and protected our group with every fiber of my being. We have a very different understanding to what ‘civil disobedience’ calls for. Unfortunately after man attempts to bring us back to an agreement with the direction of the movement, I was told this is the way it is and if I don’t like it I need to go.”

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