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Freedom Rally in Helena pushes back against COVID mandates

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More than 200 people participated in a rally protesting federal COVID-19 health orders Saturday outside the Montana state Capitol in Helena.

The Freedom Rally featured speakers from several organizations pushing back against what they consider to be government overreach dating back to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Attendees waved U.S. flags and carried signs with phrases such as “No Mandated Shots” and “CMS Guidelines are Discriminatory.”

“For two years now I have watched as businesses have failed, federal spending has went off the rails causing massive inflation, families not have the ability to be with their loved ones in their greatest times of need, travel restrictions barring people from free travel, front-line workers (losing their) way of living and our military being dismantled for their religious beliefs,” said Jeremy Mygland of Helena, who was one of the event hosts. 

Event organizers said all three members of Montana's congressional delegation were invited to participate. They said Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester declined the invitation, but Republicans U.S. Sen. Steve Daines and U.S. Rep. Matt Rosendale sent letters that were read aloud at the event. In their letters, both lawmakers criticized what they called overreaching COVID-19 mandates and discussed their efforts to stop them in Congress.

The owner of Myg Inc. in Helena and Butte and R&C Lumber in Deer Lodge, Mygland emphasized that the event was not intended to be an anti-vaccine rally. He said he is glad the COVID-19 vaccine is available to those who want it but he wants the government to “leave the ones that have chosen against taking it alone.”

Freedom Rally

Saturday's Freedom Rally featured speakers from several organizations pushing back against what they consider to be government overreach in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“To be clear, this is not an anti-vax rally, it is a rally to show one united voice against federal overreach in the country that we intend to hand over to our kids and grand kids,” he said. “I have absolutely no issues with anyone that decides that the vaccine is for them and their family.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States are safe for most children and adults and effective at preventing the spread of the respiratory disease.

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Jeremy Mygland of Helena speaks Saturday at the Freedom Rally. He was one of several who spoke. The two Republican members of Montana's congressional delegation sent letters criticizing what they said were overreaching COVID mandates.

Other speakers at the event included representatives of the Big Sky Liberty Alliance, the Montana Family Rights Alliance, the People's Convoy and the US Freedom Flyers. All four organizations are opposed to government mandates related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Ongoing legal challenges have put a hold on multiple federal vaccine mandates except for those at hospitals and other health care facilities. Multiple challenges to various vaccine rules of the Biden administration — including those for federal contractors, armed services personnel and Head Start employees — are slowly playing out in the courts.

Freedom Rally

Attendees waved U.S. flags and carried signs with phrases such as “No Mandated Shots” and “CMS Guidelines are Discriminatory.”

Gov. Greg Gianforte ended Montana’s statewide mask mandate in early 2021 and eliminated many of the restrictions on businesses and events that limited hours and capacity. In mid-March, the Transportation Security Administration announced that masks would continue to be required on planes, trains and buses for at least another month.

The CDC continues to recommend mask use in counties that are at high risk for COVID-19 infections, including many counties in Montana. As of Saturday Lewis and Clark County was considered to be at low risk.

Reporting from Sam Wilson of the Montana State News Bureau was used in this story.

Editor Jesse Chaney can be reached at 406-447-4074, or find him on Twitter: @IR_JesseChaney. 

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