BROOKFIELD — City of Brookfield police on Monday, April 20 issued a statement following a large protest Saturday, April 18 against the extension of Governor Tony Evers’ “Safer at Home” order amid the coronavirus pandemic. Police said while there were no arrests, one person was referred to the Waukesha County District Attorney’s Office on disorderly conduct charges. Additionally, police noted protecting citizens’ First Amendment rights while also enforcing laws and protecting people’s safety is “a balancing act.”
Police said of the approximately 1,000 who gathered Saturday afternoon to protest the extension of the stay-at-home order, one person was referred for disorderly conduct charges after throwing a glass bottle of hot sauce from a passing vehicle. No one was struck or injured.
The full statement from police is below:
“We estimate that approximately 1000 citizens from South Eastern Wisconsin attended the event and exercised their First Amendment right to protest the extension of the governors “Safer-At-Home Order”. No arrests were made and one individual will be referred to the Waukesha County District Attorney’s Office for disorderly conduct charges stemming from the throwing of a glass bottle of hot sauce toward event attendees from a passing motor vehicle. No one was struck or injured as a result of this subjects actions.
It is the policy of the City of Brookfield Police Department to protect the First Amendment rights of people to peaceably assemble and express themselves in a lawful manner. The Department recognizes its responsibility to enforce the laws and protect the safety of those who choose to exercise their First Amendment rights. It is further the policy of this Department to ensure that the rights of other parties and the public are also protected. We realize that this is a balancing act during these unprecedented times and we will continue to strive to fulfill our mission of providing a feeling of safety and security through fair and impartial enforcement of the law, community partnerships, and creative problem solving.
This agency recognizes the seriousness of the current health situation and we urge citizens to continue to be responsible and to voluntarily comply with social distancing requirements and all other recommendations issued by CDC and the Wisconsin DHS.”
The protesters Saturday said the extension of the “Safer at Home” order to May 26 has gone too fa,r and now is the time to re-open parts of the state. The order was originally set to expire on April 24.
Protesters said they have had enough with the order’s limits on business, gatherings and day-to-day life, and they want Gov. Evers to re-open the state’s rural areas now and get people back to work.
“We need to get our economy back in line, and we can certainly do it on a cautious basis,” said Dave Schimmels of Kewaskum.
“You quarantine the people that are vulnerable. You quarantine the people that are sick. You don’t limit everybody’s freedoms,” said Susan Richards of New Berlin.
Along Bluemound Road outside of Brookfield Square, passing drivers honked their horns in support as hundreds lined the street — ignoring social distancing guidelines — holding signs demanding that the order be lifted, saying Gov. Evers does not have the power to extend the order.
“You can see it from all the states around us — he overextended this well beyond everybody else,” said protester Paris Procopis. “I don’t know. It’s almost like a power trip.”
Though Gov. Evers’ powers regarding the matter expire on May 11, the order was actually extended at the governor’s request by Andrea Palm, secretary-designee of the Wisconsin Department of Health Service, whose power is not limited.
“The data tells us that ‘Safer at Home’ is working, and the science of the virus tells us what the path ahead needs to look like,” Palm said.
State officials said that the path ahead holds more social distance, testing and eventually, a gradual re-opening.
FOX6 News reached out to the governor’s office for comment on the protest, but they did not respond. Wisconsin Republicans plan to appeal the extension to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.