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Lynden businesses (also below) have had different ways of capturing their COVID-19 closure mode. (Calvin Bratt/Lynden Tribune)

Organizing sisters voice businesses’ desire to open

   LYNDEN ­— Sisters Julie Anderson and Brittani Nunnikhoven say they wanted to mobilize and focus what they believe to be Lynden’s feelings about the continuing shutdown due to the coronavirus.

  So they put out word on social media of a “liberate Lynden” Freedom Parade for all willing participants to happen at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 9.

  They didn’t quite expect the wave of reaction their idea would touch off, both positive and negative. Dealing with details and blowback had become “a full-time job,” the pair said on Monday.

  The parade is still on track, although an additional rally planned at City Hall has been scuttled, Nunnikhoven said. And they believe they do not need a special city permit to do the parade, they said.

  It doesn’t matter to them if many or few turn out for the parade — they just want it to be way of expressing opposition to Gov. Jay Inslee’s ongoing “stay home” order keeping most small businesses such as Lynden’s shut down.

  “A lot of Lynden people say they want businesses to open,” Anderson said. “The message to Inslee is to take notice of Whatcom County.”

  They believe the shutdown directed by the governor is not proportional to the number of actual cases of COVID-19 (319) or even associated deaths (27) that have occurred in Whatcom County, with 229,000 total population. More than three-fourths of the deaths have arisen from concentrations in special-care facilities, they note.

  They believe that out in the general public, reasonable precautions — such as spacing — can be used by businesses such as salons, gyms and restaurants upon their customers’ return to start getting the economy back up and running again.

  Inslee’s latest phased approach, announced Friday, sets about a three-week interval between phases, and restaurants, general retail and professional services are not allowed to open yet.

  Anderson claims that the checkout line wait at the Bellingham Lowe’s, an allowed business, has been more than an hour at times. “We say, ‘now that’s okay, but we can’t go to church?’” 

  They want a proper balance between the problem and a cure, and the response need not be the same across all of Washington. “Whatcom County isn’t King County, not even in the same realm,” Anderson said.

  The sisters say they know the health vulnerabilities of some people, which exist even within their own family, to COVID-19, but the overwhelming majority who contract the virus recover from it. “How does that justify shutting down the whole U.S. economy?” Anderson said.

  “Lynden people were taught to work, and find value in it,” the sisters said. “We don’t like getting a government handout. We’re just not raised that way.”

  This was the start of an original post on Facebook: “Please join us in our attempt to liberate Lynden! We are going to have an old-town Dutch parade.” But at some point the full post with its details was taken down by Facebook monitors of content.

  The plan, as posted, was for all kinds of vehicles to assemble in the north parking lot of the Fairway Center and to cruise down Front Street into downtown and back to Fairway via Main Street and then “do it all over again,” taking at least one hour. 

  Use all kinds of vehicles, “deck them out with flags, and honk your heads off!”

  “Are you sick of a tyrannical governor and want your freedom back? We need your voices to be heard,” according to the original post. “It’s time for change!! Gov. Inslee says that Washingtonians are all united, and complying with his mandate by obeying it. But we need to show that we will not comply, by opening our businesses, and churches. This is our right as American citizens.”