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Hundreds rally at Missouri State Capitol to reopen businesses amid COVID-19 pandemic

(KY3)
Published: Apr. 21, 2020 at 5:31 PM CDT
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They came by the hundreds, some, by bus, to urge Governor Mike Parson to open Missouri businesses that have been shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It should be immediate! Open it immediately," said Jennifer Bird.

The group "Reopen Missouri" organized the protest. Their Facebook group has more than 14,600 members.

"I'm standing up for my liberty, my freedom, my Constitutional rights," said Anne Riggs. "My constitutional rights don't take a vacation during a pandemic."

The crowd was large, surpassing the statewide order discouraging groups of 10 or more people.

It was so large, in fact, there was no way to practice social distancing of six feet or more.

Some people wore masks.

"I believe it will make the other people feel safer," Riggs said of her mask.

But, most people were mask-free.

"Let me as a free American make that decision as to whether that's the way I want to go with it or not," said Ike Skelton.

Skelton, who lives at the Lake of the Ozarks, believes decisions to close businesses and social distance were made out of fear.

"We're not cowards! What are we doing cowering in a corner now? This governor doesn't have any authority to do what he does," Skelton said. "The only reason he's gotten away with it is because we're generally peaceful people that want to be law abiding and want to live our lives."

While acknowledging the dangers of the virus, Representative Jim Neely, a Republican physician from Cameron, Missouri, called social distancing common sense, but for those who are sick.

"If you're ill, stay away. If you're not, get on with your life," Neely said. "I mean, common courtesy. if you've got to cough, turn, cough. Wash your hands. It's common sense. We need to instill that in what we do in these government buildings."

Governor Parson addressed the protest during his Tuesday news conference.

"What we've been asking people all along is to stay home. That's what we're simply doing and going with the guidelines of the state. They have every right to be out there," Parson said. "We announced last week how we're going to open the state. That hasn't changed and we're going to continue on that plan."