President Donald Trump expressed his support Friday for the hundreds of Minnesotans who gathered outside the Governor’s Residence in St. Paul to protest Gov. Tim Walz.
“LIBERATE MINNESOTA!” the president wrote on Twitter Friday morning ahead of the noon protest.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 17, 2020
Video from the scene showed a massive crowd of protesters clogging both sides of Summit Avenue outside Walz’s home, waving American flags and demanding an end to the stay-at-home mandate.
Pandemonium outside the Minnesota Governor’s Residence.
Horns are blaring. A few hundred people are here. Many chant “Open Up!” pic.twitter.com/xMGUtTjYQB
— Theo Keith (@TheoKeith) April 17, 2020
“Walz is the virus,” one protester’s sign declared. Other signage spotted at the protest included: “Every business is essential,” “you’re fired,” “we do not consent,” “stop the shutdown,” “I need a haircut,” and “I should be in school.”
A sampling of the signs at the protest:
“I need a haircut.”
“F*ck it, mask off.”
“Walz is the virus.” pic.twitter.com/kbYZXTgcmp
— Theo Keith (@TheoKeith) April 17, 2020
— Tim Walz Lies (@SKihne) April 17, 2020
— Evan Frost (@efrostee) April 17, 2020
The St. Paul Police Department said an estimated 800 people were in attendance.
“Minnesota citizens now is the time to demand Gov. Walz and our state legislators end this lock down! Thousands of lives are being destroyed right now. It is not the governor’s place to restrict free movement of Minnesota citizens! Gov. Walz, you work for the citizens of this state!” organizers of the protest said on a Facebook event page.
U.S. Senate candidate Jason Lewis drove his campaign RV through the protest and later got out to greet several of the demonstrators.
“I’m proud to stand with patriots across America fighting for liberty and their livelihoods,” he wrote on Twitter. “It’s time to reopen Minnesota for business. We can liberate Minnesota’s workers and businesses while still keeping the most vulnerable at a safe distance.”
I’m proud to stand with Patriots across America fighting for Liberty and their livelihoods.
— Jason Lewis (@LewisForMN) April 17, 2020
Attorney General Keith Ellison said the protesters are “irresponsible, dangerous, and risking Minnesotans’ lives.”
“If you’re alive, you might be able to enjoy some freedoms; if you’re dead, you can’t enjoy any. Anyone is free to disagree with Gov. Tim Walz or me or any elected official. But no one has the freedom to take away someone else’s freedom to live. I condemn this dangerous protest,” he said.
If you’re alive, you might be able to enjoy some freedoms; if you’re dead, you can’t enjoy any. Anyone is free to disagree with @GovTimWalz or me or any elected official. But no one has the freedom to take away someone else’s freedom to live. I condemn this dangerous protest.
— Attorney General Keith Ellison (@AGEllison) April 17, 2020
Gov. Walz addressed the protest during a telephone town hall Friday afternoon.
“I wore the uniform of this country for 24 years to protect people’s First Amendment rights to protest and I will fight to the end of time that they protest me but having people standing in close contact with one another and flaunting this – that’s not about personal freedom,” he said. “That is putting my grandmother-in-law, Vera, who’s a hundred and living in a congregate care facility at risk. It’s putting my mother who’s 85 at risk. It’s putting you and your family at risk.”
— AARP Minnesota (@aarpmn) April 17, 2020
Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN-04) said the protest was “pouring gas on the fire of this pandemic.”
“More Minnesotans will get sick and more will die if we follow President Trump’s lunacy. I support Gov. Tim Walz,” she said.
— BettyMcCollum04 (@BettyMcCollum04) April 17, 2020
Gov. Walz issued an executive order April 8 that extended his stay-at-home order through May 3. He has also extended his peacetime emergency declaration for an additional 30 days, bringing the total number of executive orders issued since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic to 38.
Republican lawmakers attempted to pass two resolutions earlier this week that would have ended the peacetime emergency and voided many of the governor’s executive orders, but both were defeated in the DFL-controlled House.
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