A man in Texas got violent with other customers after being asked to leave a price-point retail store for refusing to wear a face mask, an aid in the fight against COVID-19. With the heated incident filmed by a shopper at the San Antonio location of the 99 Cents Only Store and posted to social media, the fiery video has since gone viral with more than 115,000 views on Facebook.
On May 13, the San Antonio Police Department reported that the man was refusing to wear a mask in the store after he was asked by a manager at the discount retailer to put on a mask or leave. "Just because everyone is doing it doesn't make it legal!" the man shouted at employees and other customers. "I don't care," he said, before referencing Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's order that people cannot fine others for not wearing face coverings.
In the video captured by shopper Valerie Vallejo, the man appears to charge toward customers recording the incident on their cell phones. According to local news outlet KSAT, the police report states the man proceeded to knock out a man's phone from his hands, telling customers in the store to not record him because "it's an invasion of [his] personal privacy." The person recording was subsequently pushed by the man, grabbed and shoved up against freezers. The video halts filming when the man begins speaking to Vallejo recording the confrontation, shouting, "I'm going to f— up your phones up." Per the police department, no arrests were made.
Gov. Greg Abbott has encouraged the use of masks in the state of Texas, but adds while residents don't require them, local governments cannot punish citizens for not wearing a face mask. However, Mayor Ron Nirenberg further clarified, revealing that stores have an "authority to require patrons" to wear masks when necessary. "That is consistent with the governor's orders, as well as orders here," Nirenberg said. "Protesting the requirement doesn't confer the right for someone to trespass. It doesn't confer the right to disrupt the business, and doesn't confer them the right to assault someone."
The local Public Health Emergency Declarations in San Antonio and San Antonio's Bexar County claim face coverings are a requirement when social distancing is not possible, with county judge, Nelson Wolff agreeing. "How many signs do you see that say 'no shirts, no shoes, no service,' and they certainly have the right to do that, and we’re encouraging them to do that."
Face masks have been a topic of contention as of lately, but a global necessity as the confirmed cases of coronavirus currently reach 1.5 million in the U.S. alone, and 328,639 deaths as of this writing. According to the CDC, face masks and coverings can help slow the spread of the coronavirus and aid those who may be affected by the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.