About five hours before North Carolina’s mandatory mask order went into effect on Friday, there wasn’t a mask in sight among the crowd of nearly 100 people who’d gathered near the state legislative building. They’d come to protest, and to fight for their rights, and to stand against “tyranny,” which is how some of them described the mask mandate.
The protest had been organized by ReopenNC, the group that, for months, has called for North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper to ease restrictions in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. In its earliest days, the group pushed for the reopening of businesses. Now it’d gathered, in part, to fight the order requiring citizens to wear face coverings in public.
The order was but the latest overreach from “King Cooper,” Ashley Smith, one of ReopenNC’s co-founders, said during a press conference. While she spoke, a woman standing to the side said, “Don’t mask the healthy,” and another said “media lies” created fear. Moments later Smith asked those in attendance to sign a petition against the mask mandate.
“We can’t give them one inch of our freedom,” she said, and people cheered.
The protesters walked across the street to deliver two petitions — the second called for Cooper to be investigated — to Rep. Tim Moore, the state Speaker of the House. One of the protesters carried a large American flag over his shoulder, and he sarcastically dismissed a reporter’s attempt to discuss his thoughts about face coverings.
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