Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the St. Paul residence of Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Friday, calling for an end to the COVID-19 lockdown that was recently extended until May 4.
The “Liberate Minnesota” rally, estimated by police at about 800 protesters, was cheered by President Donald Trump and Republican leaders in Minnesota who have grown increasingly critical of record job losses and social anguish fueled by stay-at-home directives and business shutdowns.
Trump, in a series of tweets on Friday, called for freeing three states from implicitly excessive restrictions put into place by Democratic governors amid efforts to slow the spread of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, the novel coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease.
The president wrote: “LIBERATE MINNESOTA,” “LIBERATE MICHIGAN,” and then “LIBERATE VIRGINIA.”
At a Friday briefing, Trump defended the tweets, saying some measures imposed by Minnesota, Michigan, and Virginia had been “too tough.”
A private Facebook group named “Minnesotans Against Excessive Quarantine” said politicians are “controlling our lives, destroying our businesses, passing laws behind the cover of darkness, and forcing us to hand over our freedoms and our livelihood!”
Minnesotas governor on April 8 extended the states stay-at-home order until May 4. Then, on April 13, Walz extended the state of peacetime emergency through May 13.
“What we are doing is working, Minnesota,” Walz said in an April 8 statement. “We are taking this seriously, and we are staying home. While Minnesota is showing lower rates of infections than our peers across the country, now is not the time to let up or allow that trajectory to change.”
The number of Minnesotans infected with the virus on Friday climbed by 159 to 2,071, while 17 new fatalities raised the death toll to 111, the Minnesota Department of Health reported. As of Friday, 223 patients were hospitalized, with 106 of them in intensive care. So far, 1,066 patients have recovered.
Fridays protest took place a day after Walz joined with six other Midwest governors on plans to reopen the states economy.
“We are doing everything we can to protect the people of our states and slow the spread of COVID-19, and we are eager to work together to mitigate the economic crisis this virus has caused in our region. … We recognize that our economies are all reliant on each other, and we must work together to safely reopen them so hardworking people can get back to work and businesses can get back on their feet,” the governors _