At least one consequence of ‘Open Wisconsin Now’ rally

(First published in the April 23, 2020 issue of City Pages)

Aspirus doctor on leave for attending local protest of Gov. Evers’ Safer at Home extension; Mosinee police did nothing to disperse crowd


Hundreds attended a rally outside the IROW facilities in Mosinee Sunday.

A few hundred people gathered on Sunday, outside the IROW facility in Mosinee’s business park, to protest the extension to May 26 of Gov. Tony Evers’ Safer at Home order. And now an Aspirus doctor has been placed on leave for attending.

The Open Wisconsin Now protest featured politically conservative speakers, and a makeshift arena created by semi-truck trailers. Dozens of participants were holding American flags, Donald Trump banners, and signs calling for Wisconsin to open, to shop local, and for Gov. Tony Evers’ removal.

The protest came in reaction to Evers’ announcement Tuesday that the Safe at Home order, originally intended to run through April 24, would be extended to May 26, albeit with some slight easing on restrictions. Golf courses can now open, but not the club houses, for example.

The rally led to one doctor being placed on leave. A photo from the rally seemed to show Aspirus cardiologist David Murdock attending the event. Dr. Murdock did acknowledge to the media he attended. According to a statement from Aspirus, Murdock was placed on leave as the organization investigates the incident, and he “will not be seeing patients for the foreseeable future.”

Aspirus policy requires employees to follow the Safer at Home order, and company leaders “were deeply concerned when one of our physicians, Dr. Murdock, took part in a large gathering this past weekend and appeared to violate social distancing practices,” the statement reads.

Mosinee Police Chief Kevin Muelling says the IROW property owner had contacted him prior to the rally, and that he advised organizers to maintain safe social distance practices.

When asked if he considered enforcing the orders banning social gatherings of 10 or more people, Muelling says the department weighed the right of assembly against the governor’s orders in allowing the gathering. Mosinee police monitored traffic but otherwise did not step on to the property.