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Protesters Oppose Mask Mandate

Dozens--from the youngest to the city's elders--stood in solidarity and spoke out.

Posted: Jul 15, 2020 10:44 PM
Updated: Jul 16, 2020 6:45 AM

Wednesday marked the first day Mayor Lloyd Winnecke's mask mandate went into effect.

But some in the city spent part of the day protesting the mayor's order, along with other potential efforts by government leaders to stem the spread of the virus.

"I'm really happy that a lot of people came out," protest organizer Gabriel Whitley commented.

Dozens--from the youngest to the city's elders--stood in solidarity and spoke out.

"I feel like if the government forces somebody to wear a mask--people are not going to want to wear a mask, ok? You want to encourage them to wear a mask," Whitley continued.

The mask mandate--which went into effect just after midnight Wednesday--requires those above the age of 6 to cover up.

It's something the mayor says--he didn't want to do --but is the next needed step amid rising case numbers.

"It's all about asking people, trying to further encourage them to do the right thing, and take personal responsibility to protect the general health of the community. What we have put in the executive order is the same thing we've been asking for for months and months and months," Mayor Lloyd Winnecke told 44News.

Those gathering in opposition to the effort shared a range of perspectives for other approaches: from further cooperation with precinct committee members--

"I'm one of the precinct committee members. Why don't they come talk to me? We have other precinct committee members in the crowd too. Why don't they come talk to us and see what the people need?" Whitley asked.

--to not having any requirements at all, raising issues of personal freedom.

That's something the mayor also addressed:

"I know the people who oppose it think that I've been down here in the Civic Center trying to find a way to take people's rights. I can tell you that's nothing further from the truth. I did not want to do this. But I also have held out that if the situation changed we may have to go to this. The situation changed--and believe me, this is not what wanted to do--but I believe it is necessary to protect public health."

The mandate is for the next week but can be extended.

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