Demonstration calling for an end to stay-at-home order in development

The Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox statues near downtown Bemidji. Forum News Service file photo

BEMIDJI -- Organizers plan to hold a protest and demonstration in front of the Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox statues on Saturday, calling for the state to be "reopened."

In an email forwarded to local officials and the Pioneer, Beltrami County GOP Chair Rich Siegert said the rally is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. near the statues on Saturday, May 2. Community members who want local small businesses and churches to reopen are encouraged to attend the event, the email said.

The demonstration is in response to Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz's stay-at-home order, which has resulted in some businesses and places of public accommodation closed to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.

Rich Siegert, chief operating officer of Edgewater Group Management who's been involved with organizing, said the demonstration is coming from a movement formed from anger in the business community.

"Basically, if we're going to have 100% health and no business, it's not going to work out, and if we have all business and no health, it doesn't work out either," Siegert said. "The two have to be balanced. Right now, we're seeing businesses ready to go into foreclosure, we don't know if we'll be here a month from now or not."

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