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WA martial arts business owner willing to go to jail to stay open

(Battle Grounds Martial Arts, Facebook)

Joining the growing list of businesses that are refusing to stay shut down is Battle Ground Martial Arts Academy. Of all the businesses that can’t practice social distancing, this one may be at the top of the list.

Owner Jeremiah Rodeman refuses to close down and is willing to go to jail, as he told KTTH’s Jason Rantz Show. Now, obviously, when you’re practicing martial arts, you are in close contact and touching individuals. Why then did he make this decision?

“First off, I think you have the right to be able to work and feed your family. At first it was warranted, … first month was definitely worth closing to see how it was going to play out, but I think as more stats came out, more information came out, I don’t think it warranted staying closed,” Rodeman said.

What is the data he’s seeing that tells him this the right time to reopen?

“Today, I just got updated on all the legacy hospitals in my area,” he said. “There’s only 11 people in the hospital with coronavirus … they furloughed five nurses in just my local area.”

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Since reopening, have people complained?

“Most definitely. We get people shaking their heads and upset with us,” he said. “Just the other day, I was holding an American flag, and a car drove by and flipped us off and yelled ‘six feet!'”

“I don’t think people are really thinking about it,” Rodeman added. “They’re going to grocery stores; if we think it’s just bad as it is, why are we putting all these ‘essential workers’ at risk when they see hundreds, if not thousands of people every day, touching keypads, breathing the same space? I think it’s pretty hypocritical the way that we are continuing to act on this, which is some businesses aren’t essential and some are.”

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Rodeman says he has customers with PTSD, combat veterans, and various others who rely on him being open.

“One fellow cut out for a couple weeks, and to see him come in one time to ask when we’re going to reopen, tell me he’s drinking a little more, it broke my heart,” he said.

Rodeman says he disinfects the space on a daily basis, and does everything to maintain a clean environment. But he also noted that his business doesn’t really fit into the phased reopening plan, which left him with few options.

“A law enforcement officer came to my door, handed me a paper that says I can’t even reopen until phase four. I said, ‘Even at phase four, I’m still not legally able to practice jujitsu in here.'”

“So I decided to say, I can’t agree to that, I can’t follow,” he said. “I could be looking at a $5,000 fine and one year in jail. … I’m willing to make a stand because I believe what I’m doing is right.”

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3 – 6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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