Protest against Eau Claire City-County Health Department ordinance

Published: Sep. 14, 2020 at 8:49 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Monday afternoon the Eau Claire City-County Health Department held an emergency meeting to discuss an ordinance that would give more oversight and enforcement ability to local health orders.

Outside the government center, a group of about 100 protesters gathered to speak out against this ordinance, saying they are worried about an infringement of their constitutional rights.

“They cant just make a decision that affects so many people without proper representation,” says Kathy Kilvin, an Eau Claire nurse who helped to organize the gathering. “We want to take back our rights as ‘We the People’.”

Protesters expressed several concerns including that the health department director is not an elected official. Some say they are concerned the ordinance would give the government too much power, though city and county attorneys said in the meeting that the ordinance would not give the health department itself more power, but allow the local governments to better enforce the local health orders.

“Where does the government get the authority to keep people safe? And I have to ask? What pandemic?” says Ryan Thomas, from Eau Claire. “If someone approaches me and says I have to wear a mask my question is by what authority and what law?”

Lincoln Richards attended the rally with his mom, Amber.

“We need to keep our rights and freedom and not let people in high government take our rights,” Richards says.

Some protesters, like Lincoln’s mom Amber, say people should take personal responsibility for their health, and the government should stay out of it.

“It is a personal decision. We should all keep our immune systems healthy and strong,” she says.

Eau Claire business owner Ellie Landwehr says she has been following the current ordinance but does not want to see any further rules or restrictions.

“Let’s say someone comes into my business who cannot wear a mask, a health official could fine me or shut down my business which would affect my income,” she says. “I just hope we are not going to give health officers or unelected officials the power to affect someone’s life in that way.”

When Jared Choate of Eau Claire walked past the rally Monday afternoon on his lunch break, he says he was concerned by what he saw.

“We need to advocate for safety however we can and we need to advocate for everyone’s health and not just putting our beliefs above facts because the science tells us people are dying and they are going to continue dying if people do not wear masks or social distance,” Choate says.

To read more about the ordinance click here.

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