Reporter harassed for wearing a mask while covering a restaurant reopening-turned-protest

A reporter was allegedly harassed for wearing a mask outside an Albany, Minn., tavern’s reopening that turned into a protest following a judge’s move to impose a restraining order keeping the bar shut.

Lou Raguse, a reporter working for NBC affiliate KARE 11, arrived on the scene late Monday morning to cover the reopening, where residents gathering outside Shady’s Tavern allegedly harassed him for wearing a mask in public.

More than 200 residents showed up to the tavern in anticipation of its reopening, according to the report.

In video footage captured from the event, two women appeared to be chanting, “Take it off!” at Raguse, referring to a mask he was wearing. Sounds of coughing could be heard as protesters followed him while he walked away from the scene.

Raguse said that some bystanders approached him and supported his right to wear a mask following the harassment incident.

The reopening of the tavern was intended to be a celebration before Attorney General Keith Ellison filed a lawsuit and requested an injunction by Stearns County Judge William Cashman to stop its reopening. The gathering of 200 people outside the tavern quickly became a protest of the judge’s order. 

Reopening the tavern would have directly violated Democratic Gov. Tim Walz’s “Stay Safe Minnesota” order, as bars and restaurants have been ordered to keep public dining areas closed until June 1 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m not a big ‘make myself the story’ kind of guy,'” Raguse said Saturday, referring to his media coverage. 

“I will just respond by saying most of us want to go out there and cover an issue fairly and make sure people of different viewpoints are represented,” he said on Twitter. “And most of us would be willing to talk civilly if you have issues with coverage,” he said about the incident that happened Monday.

Tags coronavirus lockdown Keith Ellison Lou Raguse Minnesota Tim Walz

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