‘Freedom is important:’ Hundreds of people unite to demand reopening of region and state | Local News

KANKAKEE – The people – at least about 300 in Kankakee County – seem poised to end the government-imposed “stay at home” order put in place in late March by Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker.

On an overcast Thursday afternoon, around 300 people, most of them unmasked, gathered outside the Kankakee County courthouse to express the need to end the order and allow businesses to reopen their businesses. gates not only in Kankakee County, but throughout the state.

Organized by Soleil Van Til, a resident of Bourbonnais and owner of a small business, the rally “Let freedom ring” was organized only about a week ago and was intended to let state officials know that some have reached their breaking point.

The main theme of the gathering was freedom, both personal and public. The rally marked the first organized protest in Kankakee County of frustrations over the closure of a government order related to COVID-19.

“Freedom is important. That’s all. This is essential, ”said Van Til in obvious reference to the benefit of companies and workers who carry such a designation.

With waving flags and tall signs reading “Work is a human right” and “Reopen America Now!” The mostly well-behaved crowd cheered as Van Til, owner of Van Til Chiropractic Office in Bradley, said the time had come for citizens to recover their rights.

“The virus is real. … I’m not minimizing any of this. [But] we can move forward with the reopening and protect those who need it, ”said Van Til. “We can do both.”

The nearly 90-minute event featured prayers, speeches, songs, and at least one arrest. The only known arrest came when a protester – who at least preferred wearing protective masks – started shouting at the crowd. This incident appeared to be the only moment of confrontation during the rally.

One onlooker, Kirk Kibbons of Bradley, said there was no doubt the government had become too controlling.

“We are adults,” he said at the end of the event. “I haven’t seen my grandchildren for a few months now. I think we give up our freedoms too easily.

Another spectator, Sarah Koerner from Kankakee, described herself as “outraged” by the way Pritzker and the government control people. She said that the rights of the people were being violated.

“I find it all very transparent. It is a man-made problem. Numbers [of sick due to COVID-19] are swollen, ”she said. “I don’t trust what I’m shown.”

Van Til, 31, implored citizens to think about what is happening in these times since the presence of the coronavirus here.

She said fear had gripped the United States.

“Fear has crippled our nation. … Fear can be more dangerous than the virus, ”she said. “I choose not to live in fear. Our businesses and our churches must be open.

What she called real were the mental health issues caused by the nationwide shutdown. She said suicides are real, loneliness is real.

“I’m sick of the government telling me what to wear to the grocery store,” she said. “We need to restore self-responsibility. You are responsible for yourself.

For too long, she said, people have been silent. This obedience, she said, must end.

She said that since people started to question what’s going on, the governor seems to be rethinking the restrictions in place. On Tuesday afternoon, Pritzker announced that alfresco dining would be added to the list of permitted activities in Phase 3 of its Restore Illinois plan. This phase, which Pritzker said the state as a whole appears to be on track to reach on May 29, allows a number of businesses to reopen with limitations in place, including retail, salons beauty salons, hair salons, health clubs and more. The restrictions will also always include limits on gathering sizes. Restaurants, for example, can only have outdoor seating, in addition to the pickup or delivery service.

Van Til said people don’t need the governor’s advice on how to interact with each other.

“We can protect our friends and neighbors and the vulnerable. We can go to church safely and we must. … Let’s open up our city and our county. Let’s encourage our local elected officials. We can open up and protect people at the same time. No more restrictions. Let’s be free.

Mother and wife, Van Til said being on stage and rallying people to oppose the government was just about the last place she thought someone would find her.

However, the mother of four said someone had to stand up and say “enough”.

“It is not the right of the state to say who can open and not. It has gone too far, “she said before taking the stage.” The state is infringing on the rights of the people. The government has done a great job of scaring people. My goal is to provoke, d ‘to encourage, to inspire people to reopen businesses, for churches to decide what is right and what is safe. It is not the job of the state.

Theresa Raborn, a Republican in search of the 2nd Congressional District seat currently held by U.S. Representative Robin Kelly, D-Chicago, also addressed the assembly. The district includes all of Kankakee County.

Mark Curran, an attorney who served as Lake County Sheriff from 2006 to 2018 and is running as the Republican Party candidate for the US Senate against outgoing President Dick Durbin, also spoke.

“Who wants to live in a country without freedom? Curran asked. “We are under attack. What is going on right now, people are not hearing. We need to be a little louder.

“… We are here today for many reasons. But either we get up right away, or it continues. Let’s wake up, guys. Who do they think they are going to attack them with? “

Another spectator, Neelie Panozzo, who operates the Village Grill in Bradley, said after the event concluded that while businesses such as her restaurant which she has operated for 17 years do not open soon, no gatherings or protests will be open soon. would save them.

“I had to fire people,” she said. “I never thought the shutdown would last this long. I was thinking maybe a month. … It is beyond belief.

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