Video showing a group of maskless demonstrators parading through a Target store in Florida and hollering at customers take off their masks has gone viral on social media.
The video, apparently taken by someone shopping in the store, popped up on Reddit, and later on Twitter. It shows some protesters wearing red MAGA shirts or hats and bellowing, “Take it off.”
One participant was Cristina Gomez, who shared a livestream of the protest as she marched through the Target in Ft. Lauderdale on Tuesday.
In the livestream, Gomez and others in the group can be heard shouting, “Take your mask off!” and cheering on customers to join them. They blasted the song “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister.
“If an infant doesn’t wear a mask, then no one should wear a mask,” says Gomez in her livestream, before adding: “People looking at us like, ‘What’s going on?’ Isn’t it crazy how people now look at me like we crazy because we don’t have a mask on? I think y’all crazy for having a mask.”
Gomez did not immediately answered HuffPost’s requests for comment.
Another protester, Nathan Babcock, told HuffPost that he thought it was successful and plans to join similar events in the future.
“It’s your right to do what you want, like it’s my right to do what I want,” Babcock said. “If you want to wear a mask and think [it] makes you safer ... That’s absolutely your right, 100%. Just don’t force me to wear a mask ... Because it’s my right not to wear one.”
Babcock said he joined a protest at the store because “all our city halls are closed” and he wanted to express himself: “We have no voice in what is being done to us. That’s why we have had to organize and protest the lockdown,” he said.
Before the protest, Gomez had promoted it with a graphic on her Facebook page, calling it an “anti mask flash mob.”
Target, like many retail chains, requires shoppers to wear masks or face coverings. The chain makes an exception for those with medical conditions and for young children. The store where the anti-mask protest was held greeted telephone callers with a recorded reminder that face masks are required and that disposable masks will be provided if needed.
A spokesperson for Target told HuffPost that they were “aware of the group of guests who came into the store last night and we asked them to leave after they removed their masks and became disruptive and rude to other shoppers.”
She also emphasized that Target’s “priority remains the health and safety of our team and guests and we communicate our mask requirement through signs in our stores, overhead announcements and reminders from team members at the front of our stores.”
Gomez made waves in June at a public meeting of Palm Beach County commissioners, where she gave an animated speech against the local mask mandate.
“You literally cannot mandate somebody to wear a mask knowing that that mask is killing people,” she said. “Every single one of you that are obeying the devil’s laws are going to be arrested and you, doctor, are going to be arrested for crimes against humanity.”
Video of those comments also went viral:
Currently, 34 states and the District of Columbia mandate face coverings in public spaces. Florida is not among them, but some localities in the state have mask requirements.
Nearly 200,000 people have died from coronavirus in the United States. Florida has logged more than 12,700 deaths.
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