Opponents of COVID-19 restrictions rally at state Capitol

Published 3:57 am Monday, August 30, 2021

ST. PAUL — Hundreds of people gathered outside the Minnesota Capitol Saturday to protest COVID-19 vaccines and face covering requirements as more local governments, businesses and school districts have moved to require masks and shots.

In what organizers billed as a “medical freedom” rally, many in the crowd held up signs criticizing vaccines, masks and mandates and chanting slogans such as “My body, my choice.” About a half-dozen Republican legislators and two candidates for governor addressed the group that stood together without wearing masks.

“This issue is about choice,” said Republican Rep. Mary Franson, of Alexandria. “Only you know what’s best for your health, and only you should make a decision whether or not to inject or not inject.”

The statewide mask mandate ended in May but many employers have taken matters into their own hands as case numbers surge across the state, mainly due to the more infectious delta variant of the virus. Even so, speakers bristled at the idea of carrying vaccine passports to prove that people have either tested negative or been vaccinated against COVID-19. Many signed a petition to ban vaccine passports.

“A lot of us are not comfortable with how fast this this vaccine came out. And we want more information before we put it in our bodies. Once it’s in you can’t take it out,” said nurse Leah Cathey, who lives near Kimball in central Minnesota.