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Virus frustrations boil over in Mosinee

Virus frustrations boil over in Mosinee Virus frustrations boil over in Mosinee

Crowd calls for ending Gov. Evers’ Safer at Home order

A crowd of roughly one thousand people gathered in the Mosinee industrial park on Sunday to call for ending Gov. Tony Evers’ Safer at Home executive orders that have closed many businesses. The crowd, standing shoulder to shoulder in an IROW parking lot surrounded by dozens of semi trailers, shouted “Open Wisconsin now!” while listening to 10 speakers, including two radio person- alities, a dairy farmer, two legislators, a professional sport fisherman and a former congressman.

A Facebook invitation to the protest promised it would not be a “political event” and that “candidate signs would not be allowed.” That promise went largely unfulfi lled. The crowd was festooned with Trump supporters wearing bright red Make America Great Again baseball caps, waving countless American flags and hearing from not just a Republican senatorial candidate and assemblyman, but also Sean Duffy, a national Republican spokesperson who resigned his congressional seat last year. The first speaker, arch conservative radio talk show host Ben Armstrong, spoke wrapped in a Trump 2020 red, white and blue flag.

Gov. Tony Evers took the brunt of the criticism. Speaker after speaker lambasted him as a tyrant who illegally imposed a state quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One speaker, Rep. Shae Sortwell (R-Gibson), said he and other legislators will ask the Wisconsin Supreme Court to void his most recent executive order to extend Safer at Home through May 26 as unconstitutional. He said the challenge had a better chance of success because conservative justice Daniel Kelly, defeated in the April 7 election, would remain on the high court through August. Event organizer Cory Tomczyk, who owns IROW, called on people at the protest to start a petition to recall Evers. A final speaker, Vicki McKenna, a radio talk show host at 1130 WISN in southern Wisconsin, urged small business owners to disobey Gov. Evers’ executive order and open their businesses in an act of civil disobedience.

Members of the crowd agreed with the speakers. At one point, the crowd yelled about Evers “Lock him up! Lock him up!”

The presentations had a common libertarian theme: that Evers, in dealing with COVID-19, was sacrificing American liberties and promoting socialism. In perhaps the most provocative speech of the day, McKenna charged Evers deliberately closed businesses to bring Wisconsin residents to their knees and force them to demand government assistance.

Armstrong said Evers violated the U.S. Constitution in his executive orders and he urged the audience to liberate themselves from this oppression.

“You need to do what it takes to keep this country free,” he said.

He denied that protesters had “blood on their hands” in demanding that Evers’ orders be overthrown, saying that they were Pro-Life while the governor still favored abortion. He demanded Gov. Evers denounce abortion.

Armstrong, who repeatedly recited Bible verses, said soldiers in America’s wars won this nation’s freedoms, but that these liberties should not be sacrifi ced in the effort to eradicate COVID-19.

“We will not give up our freedoms,” he said. “Not for war, not for some stinking virus.”

Meg Ellefson, an organizer for Open Wisconsin Now, argued Evers’ orders were causing more harm than good. She read a letter from an unnamed doctor in Wausau saying that an unnamed hospital had pushed aside regular medical care in order to prepare for a COVID- 19 spike that has not yet occurred. Calling Evers “inhumane,” Ellefson related stories where people have suffered due to Safer at Home orders. These included cases where relatives have been unable to visit loved ones in assisted living centers and hospice, where people have had elective surgeries cancelled but now their conditions are worsening and where people have been unable to deal with pain while they wait for medical care. She asked people to raise their hands if they had to close a business or lost their jobs due to the governor’s orders. Many people raised their hands. Even more raised hands when asked if they had to put off a scheduled medical procedure.

“We are not selfish wanting this to end,” she said. “The majority want it over. It’s time.”

James Juedes, a town of Easton dairy farmer, said Wisconsin farms are in “dire straits” because restaurants, under to serve only take-out orders, are not ordering food, severely depressing commodity prices. He said milk will need to be dumped, chicken and eggs thrown out and hogs destroyed. “Think of all of that wasted bacon,” he said. Juedes said the country had a billion pounds of cheese in storage and had no place left to place surplus production. “There is no more room at the inn,” he said. The farmer called Evers’ orders “devastating” and that they have caused farmers to use drugs and alcohol, as well as commit suicide.

Hayward resident Esther Maina said her home community is under severe stress because of the governor’s orders. She said a local food pantry, Ruby’s Pantry, ran out of food and had to turn away 100 families. Her husband, Pete, a pro-series fisherman, said his business is at risk as corporate sponsors cut back due to lack of sales.

Rep. Sortwell said the Book of Genesis said men needed to socialize and also to work. He said people have forgotten how to live .

“We are so obsessed with survival that we are forgetting about living life,” he said.

Sortwell said Republican legislators would take Evers to court and roll back his orders.

“People are sick and tired being told not to work, to not go to church,” he said. “They don’t want to be ruled by King Evers. We will take this state back.”

A second legislator, Rep. Mary Felzkowski (R-Irma), said the left in Wisconsin had imposed a quarantine by spreading “fear and panic” about COVID-19. She said citizens needed to fight back against Gov. Evers using “knowledge and common sense.”

The audience erupted into a chant of “Common sense! Common sense! Common sense!”

Duffy said he supported an initial statewide quarantine but now wanted to give county boards the ability to determine whether their non-essential businesses remain open or closed. He said central Wisconsin businesses could open because the COVID-19 pandemic was not severe here. “We are not New York,” he said. “We are not Milwaukee.”

McKenna called Gov. Evers “a clown” who had taken away people’s freedom, adding that he imposed executive orders in a deliberate ploy to impose socialism on Wisconsin citizens.

She urged business owners to reopen their shops and invite being sanctioned. “It’s civil disobedience and we can do it, too,” she said.

McKenna said the Gov. Evers orders left her “pretty pissed off.” She urged citizens to fight the continued “safer at home” rules. “To hell with this,” she said. “This is ridiculous.”