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The Citizens to Reopen Klamath County, formerly Klamath County Patriots, wanted to respond to the recent Herald and News article regarding our gathering at the fairgrounds.

We realize there are questions about who we are, what we represent, and what our goals are. As responsible community partners, we wanted to take the opportunity to clarify these questions.

First, we are a group of local business owners and individuals who are concerned about the long-term effects of the state’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Originally called the Klamath County Patriots, we adopted a name change. We felt as though “Citizens to Reopen Klamath County” not only better represents who we are as a group, but also basically has our mission statement in the name. Our group is firmly dedicated to maintaining our liberties that are clearly defined in the Constitution.

We are not anti-mask, but we are anti-mandate. We are not anti-government, but we are anti-government overreach.

The state having the ability to choose which businesses are essential, and which ones are not, is wrong. Our government should not be deciding which business get to survive and which don’t, or who shall prosper and who will suffer. The government should not decide the hours a business can operate or how they operate. These decisions, as well as the customers decision on where to shop, are free agency decisions that are given to us in the Constitution, a document that is not void because of a pandemic.

Certain government agencies — such as OSHA, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, and the Oregon Health Authority — have been weaponized by the state to enforce, harass and harm businesses. This was never the intent or function of these organizations, and it has added extreme stress and uncertainty to business owners who are already struggling to survive. This should not be the case. Some individuals have taken it upon themselves to turn in businesses for violations. Businesses do not need added burdens, and our government should not create an atmosphere of neighbor turning on neighbor. It’s abhorrent.

The government should not shut down schools for an indefinite period of time. Reasonable precaution can be accepted by the people. Extreme measures that have no foreseeable end in sight cannot be accepted. Children are suffering the effects of not being in school. Our children deserve better, as do the taxpayers who fund the education system.

The goal of the Citizens to Reopen Klamath County is simple: Give free agency back to the people. Each business needs sovereignty in how they operate, just as each person needs autonomy in their own health decisions. We believe our citizens are smart enough and responsible enough to make these decisions for themselves.

Again, we believe these freedoms are clearly spelled out in the Constitution.

The Citizens to Reopen Klamath County would also like to extend a huge thank you to county commissioners Derrick DeGroot and Kelley Minty Morris, Representative E. Werner Reschke, Senator Dennis Linthicum, as well as Jason Dudash from the Freedom Foundation for taking the time in their busy schedules to be present and listen to the concerns of our residents.

— Ryan McNiven is a member of Citizens to Reopen Klamath County. For questions, concerns, or comments email ReopenKlamath@yahoo.com.