There were colorful flags and signs lined up along Highway 10 as the Caravan of Patriots held a rally at Veterans Memorial Park in Detroit Lakes Saturday afternoon.
“It was a Freedom from Tyranny rally,” said Carol Hexum of Perham. She and her husband, Merle Hexum, were two of the rally organizers.
The Caravan of Patriots is known for its convoy of vehicles with flags and signs, but this is actually the third rally the group has held, she said, although it’s the first since the presidential election.
Turnout was good, especially considering the off-again, on-again rainy weather on Saturday, Merle Hexum said. And lots of passing motorists were honking horns and waving in support of the rally-goers, who were there from about 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
“We were very supported,” he said. “But there are a lot of frustrated people, for a variety of reasons.” He estimated about nine in 10 people passing by were supportive, but “this is a conservative area,” he said.
Some of those passing motorists who weren’t supportive said so with their middle fingers, but a rally-goer standing next to a large “Trump Won” sign took it in stride. “They’re just saying “we’re No. 1,” he said with a laugh.
Other motorists shouted and swore at the rally-goers, said Carol Hexum. “They’re just rude," she said, adding that “conservatives don’t act like that.”
A lot of people attending the rally were from the Otter Tail County and Detroit Lakes area, but she said the event was promoted on Facebook and people came from the Twin Cities, Red Lake Falls, Moorhead, all over the state.
"We’re losing our freedoms,” she said. That’s why the rally included people concerned about losing their Second Amendment right to bear arms, people worried about election fraud, and people concerned about vaccination rights, she added.
After being born in Guyana and fleeing to Brazil with her family in 1978, Carol said she became an American citizen two years ago. “I lived in two socialist countries, and I see socialism happening here,” she said. “We know America was founded on Biblical principles … you never see people fleeing America to go to other countries, but we are seeing the freedoms just vanishing.”
Godfather’s Pizza brought over a half dozen boxes of pizza for the rally-goers, Merle Hexum said. “They’re so friendly and grateful we’re defending them,” he said. “Small businesses had to shut down (during the pandemic) but Walmart could stay open and have 500 people in the store.”
“So we’re grateful for small businesses,’” Carol said, adding that many healthcare workers were also at the rally. “They’re not anti-vaxxers, but they want the chance to choose not to take the vaccine,” she said.
“We’re suppressed,” Merle said. “The mainstream media has a certain agenda — we can’t even have a debate in this country: Facebook and Twitter shut you down. My wife just got out of ‘Facebook Jail,’” he said.
“We’re just for freedom,” he added. “We don’t care what political party you’re from -- we want freedom of choice not to have the government dictating. The government is there to protect us from each other, not from ourselves.”