Trump rally moved twice after Minnesota officials hit with restrictions; only 250 allowed to attend, not expected 25k

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ROCHESTER, MN – The Trump campaign is rebranding its Oct. 30 rally a “Make America Great Again Peaceful Protest” after claiming Minnesota’s Attorney General Keith Ellison and Gov. Tim Walz pressured a large venue to cancel hosting the president’s rally.

President Trump’s afternoon rally was originally going to be held at Rochester International Airport, but due to an anticipated crowd of approximately 25,000, the venue was moved to property owned by two businesses at the Dodge Center.

One of the businesses, McNeilus Steel, allegedly sent a letter to its employees saying the company would host the President Friday afternoon and encouraged them to attend.

JJ Francis, owner of Sominn Machinery Sales in Dodge Center, said he was told by Secret Service personnel that the rally was being moved back to Rochester.

Francis said Secret Service was planning to use his building in the parking lot of McNeilus Steel as its headquarters and were running phone lines through the building. Suddenly, personnel were removing the lines and equipment out of the building.

Francis said he was told they were heading back to Rochester, where the rally would now take place:

“The Secret Service took all of their stuff out of my building and said they were following the governor’s mandate. We can’t do it. It’s going to be in Rochester for 200 people.”

Francis said he called the governor’s office to find out what happened, but was told that the office didn’t know anything about it. He told Twin Cities Pioneer Press the whole situation was “ridiculous” and said:

“If you want to go and stand outside and see the president and see whoever else is out there, it’s an election. We want to hear what he’s got to say.”

Now, Trump’s rally will return to the airport, but will need to restrict the number of attendees to 250 to comply with Gov. Walz’s directive, which is intended to address a spike in COVID-19 cases.

According to Fox News, the Minnesota Department of Health recorded 2,872 positive tests on Thursday, which is an all-time daily record for the state.

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If an event violated the guidelines set in the executive order, the attorney general’s office would then open a civil investigation and could eventually file a complaint against the parties holding the event. That hasn’t happened, and the office hasn’t initiated any actions related to the planned rallies, according to Twin Cities Pioneer Press.

Minnesota Republican chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan called out Ellison and Gov. Waltz for suppressing the First Amendment right to free assembly by tweeting:

“Suppression. Interference with our first amendment rights.

“This is what @GovTimWalz @AGEllison are doing by abusing the power of their offices to block us from seeing our President!

“We will see @realDonaldTrump and this manipulation by the left will backfire in 5 days.”


KSTP News reported that the governor’s spokesman said neither Walz nor the Minnesota Department of Health had any role in the movement of the event.

However, the Trump campaign claimed both Walz and Ellison were “stifling” free speech with their interference of the president’s rally plans. In a statement, the Trump campaign noted:

“Without question, Minnesota Democrats had hoped that the President would simply cancel the event, but he will not allow partisan politicians to deprive people of their First Amendment rights to gather peacefully to hear directly from the President of the United States.”

The spokesperson for Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, John Stiles, told KSTP no threats were made:

“These are decisions they are making. We never threaten anyone.”

Stiles said Ellison’s office asked the Dodge Center business owners for their COVID Preparedness Plan, which is required by the state, but they never heard back. He added that the office doesn’t have the authority to cancel events.

However, Ellison could open a civil investigation and file a complaint against the president for violating the governor’s executive order. President Trump repeatedly calls his rallies “peaceful protests,” exempting the campaign from coronavirus restrictions on crowds, primarily in Democrat states, according to Breitbart.

Stiles cited the rise in COVID-19 cases in the state as the reason for why Ellison’s office inquired about the business’ COVID Preparedness Plan for this particular rally.

Ellison claimed that after consulting with state labor and health officials as well as city, county and airport officials, he and his partners asked the Republican National Committee and Trump campaign for a COVID-19 preparedness plan for the rally in writing, but did not receive responses. On Thursday evening, Ellison issued the following statement:

“It’s everyone’s responsibility to stop the spread of COVID-19. My office, along with the Department of Health and the Department of Labor and Industry, has worked evenhandedly with 80 events of all kinds in every corner of Minnesota to educate them about their responsibility to hold safe events and help them comply with Executive Order 20-74 and state laws designed to keep people safe from the spread of COVID-19.

“Overwhelmingly we have found Minnesotans willing to comply to keep people safe. Yesterday my office, along with MDH and MDLI, participated in a call with officials from the City of Rochester, Olmsted County, and the Rochester airport, and a representative of the RNC.

“We and our State partners educated them on their responsibilities for holding a safe, compliant event. After the call, we asked the RNC in writing for a COVID preparedness plan. We did not receive a response.

“This morning, upon hearing the event was moving to Dodge Center, we asked the Trump campaign and McNeilus Steel for a COVID preparedness plan. We did not receive a response. Now we have learned the event has moved again. We did not cancel this event: indeed, we have no authority to cancel events and have never cancelled an event.

“Nearly 9 million Americans, including more than 140,000 Minnesotans, have contracted COVID-19. More than 228,000 Americans, including more than 2,400 Minnesotans, have died from it.

“Yesterday Minnesota set a single-day record of 2,900 new infections and a near record with 32 deaths. COVID-19 is not a political statement, it is a deadly virus and the cause of a global pandemic.

“It does not exempt people based on their political views. For this reason, Governor Walz and I jointly encouraged all campaigns and all Minnesotans to express their political views safely during the election season.

“As Attorney General charged with enforcing our executive orders, I take very seriously my responsibility to stop it from spreading and cannot not exempt anyone, regardless of their political views, from complying with requirements to keep all Minnesotans safe from it.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden is holding a campaign rally at Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee, less than a week after the airport refused to allow President Trump to hold a rally there.

An airport spokesman told Dan O’Donnell, the host of a local talk show in Wisconsin, that Biden’s rally would be much smaller and permitted, according to Breitbart.

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