The talk of a protest in Wadena has been circulating throughout social media since Wednesday and intensifying into Friday.
First indications were that a peaceful protest was expected for 5 p.m., Friday. As that message spread, the Wadena Police Department took the precaution of letting a majority of business owners in Wadena know that there could be a protest happening.
Some locals responded Thursday by posting early closures on Friday. Weber’s Wadena Hardware placed signs saying they were closing at 3 p.m. Friday. The Tri-County Health Care Wadena clinic will close at 2 p.m. on Friday, June 5 and ReadyCare will remain open until 7 p.m. at the North entrance, according to a Facebook post. Wadena’s Farmers Market, which is held on TCHC property, has also been canceled for June 5. It was to be the opening day of the event.
Wadena City Administrator Janette Bower said while little was known if anything was going to happen, peaceful or not, they wanted to let business owners know that there was a potential threat. While some area protests have remained peaceful, including one Thursday in Park Rapids, which brought out about 10 local protesters, others reported in Fargo or the Twin Cities involved a mix of peaceful protesters followed by violent crimes of destruction and looting of businesses.
“We don't know anything more than the rumors,” Bower said. “The police department will be prepared to respond.”
“We’re all hopeful that it’s nothing,” Bower said.
While a protest is not confirmed, the hospital decided to close out of an “abundance of caution,” as TCHC director of strategic marketing Andrew Ronningen said. The emergency room will remain open and ambulances are ready if medical attention is needed following the possible protest.
Patients with appointments after 2 p.m. were rescheduled, according to Ronningen.