Mandatory mask laws and rules have become a polarizing topic during the COVID-19 pandemic. Proponents argue that masks are necessary to stop the virus. However, critics have cited human rights concerns and evidence that masks are not effective in stopping the spread of COVID-19.
In both cases, vigilance and over-police have been well documented in recent months when it comes to the mandatory enforcement of masks. The majority of the targeted individuals had medical exemptions or were following the law. The few who were legally wrong were often victims of police and citizen brutality.
Yet these people did not deserve to be victims of violence because of their health, a misunderstanding of the law, or the exercise of reasonable civil disobedience to unjust laws.
10 Woman threatens not to wear a mask
In July 2020, a mandatory mask law was in effect in Park City, Utah. Citizens were forced to wear masks in public unless they had a medical exemption. In Park City, a woman walked into Walmart to do her shopping. She was immediately confronted by a male customer who started yelling at her and pushing her with his car.
The woman had an illness that relieved her from wearing a mask. The man was kicked out of the Walmart store and the police were soon called. At this point the man had left the premises. He is now wanted by the authorities for assault.
9 Man threw hot coffee on his face while he ate
In a restaurant in Manhattan Beach, California, two men were sitting and eating their food when confronted by a man and a woman who yelled at them for not wearing masks. California law allows people in restaurants to take off their masks while eating their food, whatever the men were about to do.
The couple refused to listen to the men. Eventually the woman got angry and threw coffee at one of the men. The hot liquid hit the guy’s face. This caused the other man at the table to defend himself and his friend by trying to push the couple away. Eventually the police were called, which de-escalated the situation.
No charges were filed. However, the woman had to apologize to the man she attacked.
8th North Carolina man beaten by police and citizens
When Charles Redell Moody went shopping at a local flea market, despite government orders, he forgot to wear a face mask. When he was watched against the law, the police were called immediately. They forcibly arrested Moody.
A tape showed the arrest officers as well as private individuals attacking Moody, who was unarmed and had not threatened anyone. This sparked a debate about mandatory mask arrangements as well as race profiles. Moody is African American, while the sheriff’s deputy and the citizens who attacked Moody were all Caucasian.
Despite alleged evidence of police brutality and several irregularities related to the arrest, North Carolina authorities stated that the arrest was not against police process. This led to protests outside the flea market.
7th Man attacked with metal pole for answering a phone call
When a man got off a bus in the Florida Keys in early 2020, he took off his mask to answer a phone call. When bus driver Denys Santos saw this, it made him angry. Santos left his station on the bus, grabbed a metal bar and tried to attack the man. Santos also berated the man for not wearing a mask.
Fortunately, the man escaped unharmed. He called the police to report Santos. In the meantime, the driver returned to the bus and drove off. But he was stopped by the police shortly afterwards. Santos was arrested and charged with aggravated assault.
6th Woman suffocated and kicked by police for not wearing a mask
In Victoria, Australia, recent COVID-19 restrictions rival those of a military dictatorship. People are only allowed to be outside their homes for an hour a day, they cannot be more than 3 miles from their homes, and they are subject to many other arbitrary restrictions. Unless there is a valid medical reason, every citizen must wear a mask at all times outdoors.
In a video now viral, Melbourne police were seen assaulting a young woman on the street, knocking her to the ground, choking her almost unconscious and kicking her in the chest. During the whole time, the person taking the picture urged the officers to break away from the woman, saying the police were hypocrites for not being socially distant.
Judging by the video, there was an argument because the woman was not wearing a mask. Having had an exemption on medical grounds, which she reported to the police when she first contacted her, they appear to have had no legal basis for her actions. Melbourne Police are currently conducting an internal investigation into the use of force by their officers.
10 cases of violence by peace movements
5 Police used pepper spray on a man in Tim Hortons
A mandatory mask law came into effect in the province of Quebec on July 18, 2020. That day, a man walked into a restaurant in Tim Hortons without a mask, causing the store to call the police. When the officers arrived, they told the man to go. It is believed that he tried to tell them that he had a pre-existing condition, although it has not been confirmed.
The encounter ended with the man, who did not commit a violent attack, threat or obvious provocation of violence, sprayed pepper spray by police and knocked him to the ground. His girlfriend, who was recording the incident, shouted in French in the background: “For a mask, for a mask.”
All the while, her boyfriend was beaten by the police. He was later expelled from Tim Hortons and charged with resisting and / or deliberately obstructing a peacekeeping force. At this point in time, the case is still ongoing.
4th The couple enjoying the picnic were sprayed with pepper spray by the woman
Critics of the mask laws feared that private individuals would take the law into their own hands and do irresponsible things if they encountered people who were not wearing masks. Those fears came true on July 27, 2020 at a dog park in San Diego.
A woman approached the O’Brien family, who were not wearing masks, and cursed them. The couple did not respond to the aggression that made the angry woman become more detached. Soon after, she returned with pepper spray and used the aerosol on the couple and their dog.
While California has mandatory mask laws, it doesn’t apply to people who are outdoors and physically distant from people outside their homes, as the O’Briens did. The couple had to be hospitalized for their injuries, which luckily were not life threatening.
As of this writing, the San Diego police are looking for the attacker.
3 Elderly couple beat up for sitting down and then prosecuting
Eero Janzen suffers from prostate cancer. His doctors have advised him not to wear a mask, to get plenty of fresh air, to exercise and to take breaks whenever he needs it. He was forced to sit down while at a local mall with his wife. So he did it on the steps of the mall.
Security immediately began harassing the couple. The guards told the Janzens that Eero could not sit there due to social distancing and that they would have to leave the mall. The couple tried to explain that Eero had cancer and needed to rest.
Although Eeros Cancer entitles him to protection from disabilities under Canadian Human Rights Act and the Ontario Human Rights Code, the guards threw the Janzens out of the mall and told them they were banned for life.
The couple followed and left the mall. As they approached their car, the guards ambushed them. Carol Janzen was repeatedly thrown and beaten in the car, causing multiple injuries and more than $ 2,500 in damage to the vehicle.
The police soon arrived and arrested Carol. They claimed that she spat on the guards when they viciously beat them and accused them of the attack. It is believed that this was not supported by camera footage that has since been deleted from the mall.
2 Unarmed man shot dead when he came out of his house
Besides the COVID-19 pandemic, the biggest story of 2020 is excessive police violence. This controversy came briefly in the small community of Haliburton, Ontario when a 73-year-old man was shot dead by Ontario Provincial Police.
On July 15, 2020, the man without a mask went to a local grocery store. There was an argument with shop clerks, which resulted in the man leaving or being kicked out. (Sources vary on this.)
The store immediately called the police. However, officers arrived after the man left. The police were able to identify the man and where he lived, and tracked his car. When the police arrived at his home, they drew their guns and asked him to come out.
When he obeyed these orders, he was shot immediately. He didn’t have a gun. According to witness statements, he did not appear to pose a threat to the police.
A rifle and pistol were later recovered from the house, but there is no evidence that they were used in the incident. The Special Investigations Unit’s investigation into the shootings is ongoing.
1 Beat to death by the police
Giovanni Lopez was a bricklayer from Guadalajara, Mexico who did not survive his encounter with the police. On May 4, 2020, Lopez was forcibly arrested at gunpoint for not wearing a mask outside. Although police claim he resisted the arrest, footage of the scene and witness reports allegedly contradict these claims.
When his family went to the police station to rescue Lopez from prison, they were told that he had been taken to the public hospital. By the time his family got there, Lopez was already dead.
Although he had a gunshot wound, the autopsy revealed that he had died from a blunt force trauma to the head. His death sparked major public protests in Mexico. Many demanded justice for Lopez and his family.
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