Three brothers behind a Minnesota gun group have been linked to Facebook groups that are pushing and promoting anti coronavirus quarantine protests in several states.
A report in the Washington Post has revealed that the Dorr brothers, comprising Northfield, Minnesota-based Ben, Chris and Aaron Dorr, are behind groups with increasingly large follower numbers that oppose shutdowns in Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York.
Ben, Chris and Aaron Dorr are behind the Northfield-based Minnesota Gun Rights, which styles itself as "Minnesota's only 'No Compromise' gun rights organization.
Ben Dorr is listed as one of the admins on "Wisconsinites Against Excessive Quarantine,” which was created on Wednesday and now has 100,000 followers, while Chris Dorr is one of the creators of similar groups in Pennsylvania and Ohio, and Aaron Dorr is behind one in New York.
As well as spreading misinformation about the coronavirus, the WaPo reports that the groups also offered "the latest illustration that some seemingly organic demonstrations are being engineered by a network of conservative activists."
The WaPo report doesn't cite any Minnesota Gun Rights involvement in the organization of Friday's "Liberate Minnesota" protest outside the governor's mansion, which drew criticism as hundreds of protesters gathered in contravention of social distancing guidelines.
However, one of the lead organizers of Friday's protest, Michele Even, of Credit River Township, is also listed as an admin of the "Wisconsinites Against Excessive Quarantine" Facebook group, alongside Ben Dorr.
What's more, Minnesota Guns Rights is also pushing a series of websites including ReOpenMn.com, which re-directs users to the Minnesota Gun Rights website, specifically a page providing a contact asking for people's names, email addresses, and address so an email can be sent on their behalf to Gov. Walz's office.
A ReOpenWI page meanwhile directs users to the Wisconsin Firearms Coalition, another pro-gun group run by the Dorrs.
While not providing a comment to the WaPo, Ben Dorr did tweet on Monday: "Thing is, we Dorr Brothers love our country, we love our freedom and we love the people! We just don't like tyranny, that's all. END THE QUARANTINES! ReOpen our great land, give back the freedoms taken and save America's small businesses!"
Majority support Stay at Home restrictions
The far-right effort to oppose social distancing-related shutdowns comes despite the fact that the majority of Americans are in favor of their use to limit the spread of the coronavirus and protect the vulnerable.
An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that 58 percent of Americans are more concerned that relaxing Stay at Home rules would cause more COVID-19 deaths, while a third say they're more concerned about the impact of such orders on the economy.
The same poll found that the percentage of Americans who say they're worried a family member might catch the virus has risen 20 points in the last month.
Another poll by Pew Research found that 66 percent of Americans don't want restrictions lifted too quickly, including a majority of Republicans.
BMTN has reached out to Minnesota Gun Rights for further comment.