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Opponents of statewide mask mandate rally at Minnesota Capitol

By Mark Zdechlik, Minnesota Public Radio News

A few hundred people turned out for the rally, with some carrying signs, others American flags, and a few with firearms visible. In announcing the rally, organizers said they’re not opposed to people wearing masks — just any statewide rule or law requiring it.

One sign at the rally called the coronavirus pandemic a “fake crisis.” Another called the wearing of masks “dehumanizing.”

Ben Carrick, who said he’s from southern Minnesota, was among the crowd on the Capitol grounds.

“I don’t think the governor has any right to be telling us what to do in our private lives,” he said.

“We think that it’s an over-step of their bounds,” Carrick said of state leaders imposing the mask mandate. “We don’t live in a dictatorship, and we don’t do what they say — they do what we say.”

St. Paul resident Bill Smith was among a few people who showed up wearing face coverings to counter the anti-mask messages.

“I consider not wearing a mask to be criminal,” he said. “They’re a public danger, to walk around without a mask.”

Several state troopers were on hand to help de-escalate arguing between the two sides.

The statewide rule requires people to wear face coverings in public indoor spaces, to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Public health officials say wearing face coverings is important to slow the spread of the coronavirus.