Monday morning at 11 a.m. hundreds of protestors gathered around the Lake Region Healthcare hospital grounds and across from NP Park to voice their support for Dr. Jeffery Horak, and to express their opinions surrounding issues such as the right to choose, parents’ choice regarding health care decisions and to defend free speech.

Demonstrators could be heard singing the national anthem and “God Bless America.” The Pledge of Allegiance was recited and chants such as “freedom,” “fight for freedom” and “USA” were heard while others held signs saying “We stand with Dr. Horak.”

Many of the attendees expressed concern regarding the termination of Horak, who was given the choice to either resign or be terminated from Lake Region Medical Group nine days after making public comments at a school board meeting in favor of parents having the right to choose if their children should be required to wear a mask or not.

At 12 p.m. multiple speakers addressed the crowd from a podium set up in NP Park.

“I was informed that my views and the views of my employer were no longer congruent,” said Horak during his speech. He stated that he was punished for speaking his “professional and faith-based opinion.”

In addition to addressing his termination, Horak expressed concern about the direction he believes the country is heading politically and reflected upon why people were gathering in protest.

“One. You are becoming aware that your freedoms are being taken away,” he said. “Two. Professionals such as myself are being silenced and then, so are you ... third, you’re afraid. We’re all afraid.”

He stated that he believes there is a “war” going on and that people, like him, are being censored.

“I truly believe this is a war,” he said, encouraging others to do research, know their rights and ask questions, saying that there are “multiple battles coming.” His message was to empower people gathered at the event and to let them know that he stands with them.

”This is a fight of good versus evil,” shared speaker Laura Dewey, creator of the Fergus Falls for Freedom without School Mandates Facebook group, who also took the podium to speak.

Also present at the protest was Dr. Scott Jensen, who is running in the 2022 Minnesota gubernatorial race as a candidate for the Republican Party.

“You are a danger to those who would silence others,” said Jensen, addressing the crowd. “We have to utter the challenge to the silencers.”

He said he believes that Horak has been violated.

The gathering ended with the sentiment “God Wins.”

Dr. Greg Smith, president of the Lake Region Medical Group sent a written statement addressing Horak’s termination on behalf of the group’s board — a group of nine of Horak’s partners and physicians.

”The reasons for Dr. Horak’s separation are a confidential matter,” he stated. “To be clear, this was a decision that was made by Dr. Horak’s peers who serve on the (Lake Region) Medical Group board, not by Lake Region Healthcare, the community-based hospital where Dr. Horak practiced general surgery.”

He ended the statement assuring that “(a)s a medical group, we hold our oath to deliver safe and evidence-based patient care in highest regard.”

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