A group of anti-mask protesters went viral after staging a demonstration at a Target on September 15 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Other shoppers recorded videos of the protesters as they marched through the store, shouting for everyone to remove their masks.
The governor of Florida has not issued a statewide mask mandate and resisted calls to do so as the number of coronavirus cases rose sharply over the summer. But officials in other areas of the state have taken the opposite approach. Broward County, where this protest took place, is among those where masks are mandatory in public. Target also requires shoppers nationwide to wear masks inside its stores, USA Today reported.
The videos embedded below contain profanity.
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Protesters Yelled Inside Target for Shoppers to Remove Their Masks, Insisting That the Coverings Aren’t Necessary
Footage of the Fort Lauderdale protest was first shared on Reddit. The user titled the video “WELCOME TO SOUTH FLORIDA” along with a message asking people to wear masks. The clip was later shared on Twitter and has since racked up more than 12 million views.
The :30 clip shows the demonstrators walking, and at times dancing, through the store yelling at people to take off their masks. They were playing the song “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister. The woman who was recording muttered “F****** idiots” as the group came closer to where she was standing.
One of the event organizers, Cristina Gomez, live-streamed the entire event to Facebook. In the video, the group walks into Target, wearing masks, before starting the Twisted Sister song and removing the masks.
Gomez and others cheer, scream “Take it off” and “We’re done” repeatedly and yell to others that face coverings aren’t necessary. As the group walks past a couple with a baby in a stroller, Gomez yells out, “If an infant doesn’t wear a mask, then no one should wear a mask.” She also shouts to the other shoppers to “look at the kids” that are participating in the protest and to “be their example” by taking off the masks. No one appears to approach the group as they make their way through the store.
An Event Organizer Refers to People Who Wear Masks as ‘Wussies’
Gomez’s live-stream includes footage from both before and after the march through Target. Before the group walks inside, a speaker wearing a “Make America Great Again” T-shirt addresses the participants. He reminds them that this is a peaceful demonstration. He explains that if others want to wear a mask, they have a right to do so because that is their choice. “Here’s the bottom line. If somebody wants to wear a mask going to a grocery store, then let them wear a mask. But how is it that if their mask if working, that I have to wear one too?”
During the video, Gomez repeats that mask-wearing should be a choice and said she respects if someone wants to wear one. But she also describes people who wear masks as “wussies.” Before going inside, she points the camera at students and identifies them as “young patriots.”
As the group exits Target, Gomez walks past an employee wearing a face covering. At the 14:05 marks, she turns the camera back toward him and shouts, “A COVID idiot! COVID idiot, that’s what he looks like!” Gomez then turns the camera on herself and explains, “Listen man, I’m not gonna lie. I feel very powerful when I am united with other human beings that believe in what I believe in.” She adds that they inspired at least three people inside Target to remove their face coverings.
Masks Are Mandatory in Broward County & Violators Face a $100 Fine
Wearing a face covering in public is mandatory in Broward County, Florida. Mayor Dean Trantalis signed an executive order in April requiring residents to wear masks inside places of business. In July, as coronavirus cases rose in Florida, county administrators added a provision mandating face coverings in public outdoors if proper social distancing was not possible, WPLG-TV reported. Broward County’s order also extends to personal properties:
EO 20-21 requires that all persons wear a facial covering while outside of their residential property if social distancing of at least six feet (6’) between persons not of the same household cannot be consistently maintained. [EO 20-21, Section 3]. Therefore, you are not required under EO 20-21 to wear a facial covering if you are on your own residential property. However, your guests need to wear a facial covering both inside of your home and in outside areas like a backyard or patio whenever social distancing of at least six feet (6’) cannot be consistently maintained.
Children under age two are exempt from wearing a mask, according to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as people with specific medical exemptions. According to the county website, those who violate the mask mandate are subject to a $100 fine.