Hundreds of residents gathered for a “Risk It for the Brisket” barbecue protest on Saturday as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer continues to punish businesses for defying her orders.
The event, held at Iron Pig Smokehouse in Gaylord, came just days after the state had suspended the establishment’s food license, ABC 7 reported.
Patrons took in “live music, a bonfire, and food and drinks, all while supporting local restaurants.”
“It’s important because it’s to show support for the small business owners, they’re getting, they’re getting a horrific bad time especially for like the restaurants and stuff,” Shannon Boughner told the news station.
“They need all the help we can get, and that’s why we’re here and obviously I’m not the only one.”
“I feel like a lot of these mandates have been on unjustly against the restaurant industry in particular, and they’re doing their best to try and stay open,” Kyle Denholm said, according to ABC 7.
“I realize there are restrictions and I understand all those things but to shut down someone’s livelihood, because of potential threat of a virus is one of those things that don’t feel as necessary.”
The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) has also been targeting Cafe Rosetta in Calumet.
Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Wanda Stokes — over 500 miles away from the restaurant located in Houghton County — was found in contempt of court after it refused to cease operations.
MDARD attorney Danielle Allison-Yokom requested a $7,500 fine for the restaurant, which the judge reduced to $2,500 before suspending it and allowing the owner to respond.
The judge asked Allison-Yokom if the penalty was too harsh, and she responded the department is not seeking incarceration of owner Amy Heikkinen, the Mining Gazette reported.
Heikkinen has argued she cannot maintain her business on takeout orders only.
“I have to tell you, that when it comes to court orders, in my opinion, civil disobedience is not an option. It just absolutely is not,” Stokes said.
This week, state Rep. John Damoose (R) is introducing a resolution to declare Saturday, January 16 “Restaurant Dine-In Day” after Whitmer’s latest order is expected to expire on Friday.
Damoose acknowledged a resolution does not do much, but the intent is to “set the tone that we’re serious about this.”
He said many other representatives are rallying behind it, and “some of these restaurants are just plain happy to see someone supporting them.”
Damoose told The Kyle Olson Show that businesses and residents have been met with “hostile message after hostile message” from Whitmer and her administration.