Reporter harassed for wearing mask while covering rally outside Minnesota bar

A FOX 9 video shows the moments a Twin Cities reporter was harassed for wearing a mask while covering a rally outside a bar during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Monday, crowds gathered outside Shady's Tavern in Albany, Minnesota to protest the governor’s executive order that shut down bars and restaurants to on-site food and beverage service. The bar has become a topic of debate after the owner, Kris Schiffler, said he would open even if it violated the executive order. The state then obtained a temporary restraining order, which kept his doors shut.

The video shows a woman telling KARE 11 reporter Lou Raguse to take off his mask, chanting "take it off." Another woman follows Raguse as he walks away, at one point grabbing his shoulder. 

The debate over the potential opening of the small-town bar moved to a virtual courtroom on Friday as Attorney General Keith Ellison joined in on the proceedings.

“COVID 19 is a global pandemic that has spread throughout the United States and reached every corner of Minnesota,” said Jason Pleggenkuhle, Assistant Attorney General.

The Attorney General and his office attempted to fully enforce the governor’s executive order that shut down bars and restaurants to on-site food and beverage service to protect Minnesotans from the coronavirus.

“The Governor here was not acting pretextually or with some animus towards bars and restaurants when he issued executive order 20-56; he was acting in order to protect public health and safety to slow the spread of a deadly virus,” said Pleggenkuhle.

The legal team for Shady’s Hometown Tavern and its owner Kris Schiffler argues the governor is out of line by keeping bars and restaurants closed, while allowing big box stores like Walmart to operate. His attorney insists they can operate safely while following strict federal health guidelines.

A judge will soon decide if the bar can reopen.