MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Protesters gathered outside Governor Tim Walz’s residence in St. Paul Thursday to urge him to end the stay-at-home order.
Dozens of people were there to chant, “Open Minnesota! Open Minnesota!”
Drivers in cars adorned with American flags and painted with words like “Freedom” drove by the group on the street honking their horns.
The protesters want to be able to go back to work.
“I’m being harassed by bill collectors because I’m unable to pay my bills,” said Angelina Penkert of Waverly.
Penkert is a single mom who can’t work either of her two jobs in a salon and as a bartender.
For her, the dire financial situation surpasses any health concerns.
“If it’s my time to go, it’s my time to go,” she said. “If God decides this will be the illness that will take my life, then it will be it.”
More than 100 letters were pinned up on the governor’s fence. Each told a story of someone struggling financially or with their mental health.
“We want to work, we want to go to our parks, we want to go to school,” said Arielle Brandenburg, the protest’s organizer. “We want to go back to life.”
Many of the protesters said they believe continuing the state shutdown is a case of government overreach.
“If you are so willing to give up your civil liberties, then move to a country that’s communist,” said Andrea Cuellar of Elk River.
When asked about the health risks of opening the state and the possibility of spreading the virus, Cuellar said each person should be able to decide the risks they’re willing to take.
Brandenburg suggested isolating elderly and vulnerable people, and everyone else can wash their hands and wear masks.
It was pointed out to her almost none of the protesters wore masks.
“No, we aren’t,” Brandenburg said. “We’re not scared of this virus.”
The CDC recommends wearing a face covering when with other people and staying at least six feet apart.
In response to the protest, the governor’s office released a statement:
The Governor has said that we can’t lose our democracy during this pandemic, and this extends to people exercising their First Amendment rights. We ask that for the health and safety of themselves, their families, and their fellow Minnesotans that those demonstrating exercise good social distancing behavior.
Another protest advocating for ending the stay at home order is scheduled for Friday at noon outside the governor’s residence.