A group of people staged a protest outside of Helbachs Coffee in Middleton on Saturday by offering free coffee and snacks to people.

Protest organizer Elisabeth Bernards says they wanted to support the science of wearing masks. 

“We’re just giving out free coffee and cookies and brownies to support science.  We’re not saying we’re against anybody or for anybody, the only thing is we’re asking for donations, if people can, for the United Way to help for the COVID relief fund.”

A Middleton police officer could be overheard explaining the situation to a woman who called police in a Facebook Live video posted by a protester. 

POLICE: “My understanding is that they’re not doing anything wrong.” CALLER: “They are! Don’t they need a permit for this?” POLICE: “No, they’re not selling anything.” CALLER: “Well they’re making people, they’re asking for donations.” POLICE: “Well they’re not demanding donations.” CALLER: “You can harass a coffee shop-” BERNARDS: “We’re not harassing anyone.” CALLER: “Yeah you are! I want this to be harassment!” POLICE: “Okay.”

The coffee shop has been embroiled in a fight with the health department over a refusal to require masks inside. A hearing over whether or not the shop will lose its permit is set for next month.

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