A new viral video shows anti-face mask protesters marching through a Target store in Florida, chanting for other shoppers to remove their masks. The clip has been verified as authentic in a report by Huffington Post, sparking outrage over coronavirus science denial. It sparked a discussion on social media about conspiracy theories and disinformation.
The protesters danced through the aisles to "We're Not Gonna Take It" by Twisted Sister, in the video now making the rounds online. It appeared to be filmed by another shopper, and was originally posted on Reddit before it reached Twitter. It shows the crowd of protesters in Trump campaign attire, shouting "Take it off!" at other customers. One of the demonstrators, Cristina Gomez, reportedly explained herself further in a live stream.
Anti-maskers in Florida invade a Target pic.twitter.com/Z8TWbl8ihD— Fifty Shades of Whey (@davenewworld_2) September 16, 2020
"If an infant doesn't wear a mask, then no one should wear a mask," Gomez said in her stream. "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."
The whole thing happened in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida on Tuesday. So far, Target has not commented publicly on the encounter, and the protesters have issued no further comment either.
Posted by Cristina Gomez on Tuesday, September 15, 2020
Gomez promoted the event with a graphic on Facebook, showing a line over the face of Dr. Anthony Fauci. She raged against the local or state policies ordering people to wear masks, and the corporate policies some retailers have instituted about them as well.
"You literally cannot mandate somebody to wear a mask knowing that that mask is killing people," she claimed. "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."
Nope, and Target should sue them for the cost of sanitizing the store. pic.twitter.com/DAlRKjHLTh— Reese 😷🏳️🌈🎉 Vote Blue 🌊🌊🌊 (@reese_malmgren) September 16, 2020
Contrary to commentary from Gomez and others, face masks are safe for almost everyone to wear, and can help protect everyone from the spread of COVID-19. Oximetry tests show that masks do not impede breathing for most people, and according to a report by the University of Maryland Medical System, they do not cause carbon dioxide or other gases to build up in the body, either.
It is also a myth that face masks impede on human rights in some way, as protesters have. As a report by Poynter notes, governments and businesses reserve the right to demand that people wear clothes and shoes in public, and face masks are no different. Businesses, likewise, have the right to make these requirements for customers that want to visit the stores.