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‘Let them play’: Protesters chant at State Capitol after winter activities suspended

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Protesters gathered at the Capitol Monday night to voice their concerns over Gov. Doug Burgum’s decision to suspend extracurricular activities until Dec. 14.

“Let them play” was the message as about 50 people marched from the Capitol to the Governor’s Mansion. Many of the protesters carried signs that read “Let them play” and “Let me play.”

Protesters say they are concerned with how, and why, the decision to suspend winter activities was made. Many parents at the protest say they are worried about the mental health of kids who are being sidelined by the decision.

“I think we’re tired of saying, ‘OK, this is how we’re going to do it,'” protest organizer Shanna Johnson said. “I think we’re finally at the point where we need to stand up for our kids. Our kids are struggling. They’re struggling with grades, they’re struggling with depression. It’s wintertime in North Dakota. We all know that brings on seasonal depression. These things are real things, and we’re tired of seeing our kids get punished for that.”

Athletes in attendance said they are willing to do whatever it takes to get their sports back, even if that means wearing a mask or having no fans in attendance.

“I feel like it’s really important and if we weren’t skating for a long time we’d forget about it,” 10-year-old ice skater Ruby Skaro said. “I feel like if they just make us wear masks when we go there, then we could do that instead of just canceling it completely.”

The group sent a petition to the governor with more than 5,000 signatures asking him to reverse his decision.

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