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Report: Minnesota bar owner leads 200-person march after threats of 5-year liquor license suspension

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Nearly 200 individuals reportedly participated in a march Sunday against Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz’s (D) executive order shutting indoor services for restaurants, according to multiple reports, reflecting the growing anger of business owners toward recently tightened statewide and local COVID-19 restrictions.

The owner of Interchange Wine and Coffee Bistro, Lisa Hanson, organized the march after being faced with a potential five-year suspension of her liquor license for continuing to defy the executive order, CBS Minnesota reported Sunday.

“It’s time for us patriots to rise up, in a peaceful way of course, and to say, ‘Hey, enough is enough,’” Hanson reportedly said.

RELATED: Watch: Angry business owner crashes live news segment, rails against COVID-19 restrictions in Michigan

CBS Minnesota reported that, since mid-December, a temporary restraining order has been placed against The Interchange. Additionally, the Minnesota Department of Health has suspended its license and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety for 60 days plans to suspend the bar’s liquor license.

“We are open for business,” Hanson said. “[We’re] staying open because we need to make money to pay bills.”

Hanson, according to CBS Minnesota, believes the state is unlawfully enforcing an order. If her bar continues to violate the executive order, it reportedly could lose its liquor license for a period of five years.

“We’re well aware of what the consequences could be,” Hanson said, according to CBS Minnesota. “Either I closed permanently or I opened fully, so I opened fully . . . and yes, I knew the risks going into that.”

Moreover, Hanson acknowledges that her effort is about principle at least as much as it’s about her bar, the news outlet wrote. As part of her stand-off with state authorities, CBS Minnesota reports that inside The Interchange are pocket-size United States Constitutions laid out on a counter, protest T-shirts on sale, and a tip jar that’s been converted into a legal fund.

“We believe that we will see victory in this,” Hanson added.

It should be noted that Hanson is entitled to a court hearing before any liquor license suspension can go into effect, the news outlet stated. She reportedly said she plans to consult with her attorney on how to proceed.

Similar protests against COVID-19 restrictions targeting indoor services in bars and restaurants have sprung up across the country in recent months. These tighter restrictions were issued during the late autumn, when coronavirus cases were skyrocketing across the U.S. and still continue to skyrocket during the holiday travel season.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Cuomo says he’ll ‘fully cooperate’ with NY AG’s review of sexual harassment claims

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Wednesday that he will “fully cooperate” with the state attorney general’s independent review into sexual harassment allegations made against the currently scandal-ridden governor, saying, “I fully support a woman’s right to come forward.”

Last Wednesday, Lindsey Boylan, who served in his administration for over three years, accused Cuomo of suggesting to her on a 2017 flight that they play strip poker, inappropriate touching, and kissing her on the lips without her consent.

RELATED: ‘Let’s play strip poker’: Fmr. Cuomo aide accuses NY governor of sexual harassment

Following Boylan’s accusations, 25-year-old Charlotte Bennett alleged the governor indicated interest in having an affair with her while she was serving in his administration as a health policy adviser. In a Saturday New York Times report, Bennett told the newspaper that Cuomo asked her if she had “ever been with an older man,” adding that “age doesn’t matter” in relationships.

At Wednesday’s press briefing, the Empire State governor addressed the accusations leveled against him over the past seven days by three women and New York Attorney General Letitia James’ (D) independent review into those claims, which she announced on Monday was formally proceeding.

RELATED: De Blasio ‘sickened’ by Cuomo sexual harassment claims

“As you probably know, the attorney general is doing an independent review, and I will fully cooperate with that review,” Cuomo said at the beginning of his statement. “Now, the lawyers say I shouldn’t say anything when you have a pending review until that review is over. I understand that, I’m a lawyer, too. But, I want New Yorkers to hear from me directly on this.”

“First, I fully support a woman’s right to come forward,” the governor began. “And I think it should be encouraged in every way. I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable. It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it. I feel awful about it, and frankly I am embarrassed by it, and that’s not easy to say. But that’s the truth.”

This echoes what Cuomo said in a Sunday statement about the allegations, in which he stated he “may have been insensitive” during his tenure but charged his accusers of misinterpreting his actions, saying, “I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation… I am truly sorry about that.”

RELATED: Cuomo responds to sexual harassment claims, saying he ‘may have been insensitive’

During his Wednesday remarks, Cuomo iterated “I never touched anyone inappropriately,” repeated that sentence, then said “I never knew at the time that I was making anyone feel uncomfortable” and repeated that one too.

“And I certainly never, ever meant to offend anyone or hurt anyone or cause anyone any pain. That is the last thing I would ever want to do,” he continued. “I ask the people of this state to wait for the facts from the attorney general’s report before forming an opinion. Get the facts, please, before forming an opinion.”

“I also want you to know that I have learned from what has been an incredibly difficult situation for me as well as other people, and I’ve learned an important lesson,” the governor said at the end of his statement. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry for whatever pain I caused anyone, I never intended it, and I will be the better for this experience.”

Amid Boylan and Bennett’s allegations, another report of Cuomo sexually harassing a woman has cropped up. On Monday, a woman named Anna Ruch accused the governor of placing his hands on her cheeks—without her consent—at a 2019 wedding reception and asking if he could kiss her. A photograph of the two together at the event has also been circulating on social media.

RELATED: ‘Eat the whole sausage: Gov. Cuomo in hot water for resurfaced video

Asked at Wednesday’s briefing about the pictures that have resurfaced of him being touchy with people, particularly that of him and Ruch, the governor claimed that it is his way of greeting people.

“I understand the opinion of—and feelings of—Ms. Ruch,” Cuomo said. “You can find hundreds of pictures of me making the same gesture with hundreds of people—women, children, men, etc. You can go find hundreds of pictures of me kissing people. […] It is my usual and customary way of greeting.”

Moreover, the governor said that his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, would do the same thing.

“By the way, it was my father’s way of greeting people,” Cuomo said, explaining, “You’re the governor of the state, you want people to feel comfortable, you want to reach out to them.”

He also mentioned that he kisses and hugs legislators and noted that at an event in Queens the other day he hugged pastors and state assembly members.

Furthermore, the governor said that his intent “doesn’t matter,” saying, “What it matters is if anybody was offended by it.”

“But if they were offended by it, then it was wrong,” he added, going on to say that if they were offended or hurt by it, he apologizes.

MORE ON CUOMO: NY dem says state legislature is ‘inching toward’ Cuomo impeachment probe

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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