Genesee Co. residents protest mask mandate

Hundreds of people protest a school face mask order from the Genesee County Health Department.
Hundreds of people protest a school face mask order from the Genesee County Health Department.(source: WJRT)
Updated: Aug. 18, 2021 at 5:17 PM EDT
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Genesee County, Mich. (WNEM) - The battle over mask mandates heating up in Genesee County with hundreds protesting the mask mandate for elementary school students outside a county building.

The chairman of the Genesee County Republican Party said the decision is taking power away from the parents.

“It’s not fair. It’s not right. It’s a government overreach. And the people are standing together today to change this,” Matt Smith said.

About 400 people showed up to show their opposition to a county-wide mask mandate in place for kindergarten-6th grade students.

“This is America! There is a constitution that grants me, and my children, and your rights!” Lindsey Spiewak said.

Spiewak told the crowd about her son’s experience wearing a mask last school year.

“And he said mom my mouth really hurts. And when I looked at it, it was completely red, swollen, inflamed, and you know what he ended up developing a staph infection around his mouth,” Spiewak said.

After the protest, the group went to the county board of health meeting. Some in attendance showed their support for masks in school.

‘The mask mandate is a weapon that will help protect our children,” one resident said.

“Masks help protect children from COVID-19,” another resident said.

But many in the crowd wanted the board to take action and vote down the mandate.

“You are doing nothing but striking fear into our children forcing them to wear these masks,” a resident said.

And while most peaceful protesters went inside to the meeting, others stayed outside to make their voices heard.

“I’m going to be better served letting everybody see that there’s still a presence. There was quite a few people here earlier that went inside. And everybody that’s driving by now would have had no idea that this is even happening for the most part,” Kevin Henry said.

As for Smith, he said his grandfather died of covid-19, and even though he respects the disease, he also values everyone’s right to choose and thinks Genesee County administrators should do the same.

“For those that want to wear masks, I support you. But those that want a choice you should have that choice,” Smith said.