The Southwest District Health board was supposed to meet yesterday to discuss a number of issues, including a possible mask mandate.
A number of cities and counties across the state are debating and voting on the issue. Boise, Hailey, Ketchum, and a few other cities have already passed mandates.
Controversy has surrounded many of them with proponents arguing that masks help stop the spread of the Coronavirus. Opponents argue that masks are not effective and that mandating a mask is unconstitutional.
Passion has been strong on both sides of the mask mandates.
Boise saw a “mask-burning protest” in front of city hall. Rexburg saw some very passionate citizens show up at their meeting last night to oppose a mask mandate.
Now, an incident took place yesterday at the Southwest District Health building in Caldwell.
For clarification, the building is a public facility owned by the taxpayers and not a private facility.
The plan was for the board to meet and discuss a number of issues and a possible mask mandate for the district which covers Canyon County.
Ammon Bundy and a number of other citizens with a group called “People’s Rights” wanted to go and attend the meeting in person.
Bundy is famously known for his standoff with the government over a cattle grazing dispute in Nevada in 2014. Many of Bundy’s concerns reside with what he calls government overreach and encroachment on citizen’s freedoms.
Idaho does have an “open meeting” law which allows citizens to attend public meetings in person. The Governor suspended the law for the Coronavirus and says that meetings can take place electronically through Zoom or other methods. Opponents say that the Governor has no authority to suspend the open meeting law which allows citizens to be at the meeting in person.
SWDH claims that they simply wanted the individuals to put masks on and have a temperature check. Bundy claims that they were not made aware of any such requirements.
The video circulating in public does not show what happened when the group first arrives at the facility. It only begins when Bundy is already discussing the mask issue and meeting with the worker.
It should be noted that Canyon County and the city of Caldwell do not have a mandatory mask mandate in place or required temperature checks.
Some of the workers inside the building can also be seen not wearing masks or not wearing them properly.
When Bundy and others attempted to enter the building, one of the SDHW workers blocked their entry by standing in the doorway and putting his arms up to prevent them from coming in.
Bundy has a conversation with the man for several minutes saying that they have a right to attend the meeting. He also told the man they didn’t have the authority to mandate another person wear a mask.
After a number of other individuals were let in the building, Ammon pushed the worker backward and out of the doorway.
Once inside the building, Bundy continued his discussion with the worker for a few more seconds before walking toward another door on the inside of the building. The worker attempted to block this doorway as well.
That’s when another protester began pulling the glass door open and as that was occurring, Bundy stepped over the man’s leg and nudged his way through the doorway and into the room. Eventually, Bundy exits the room and continues his discussion with the worker.
Both men appear to be calm after the incidents and have a discussion about the meeting that was supposed to take place until the police eventually arrive.
Once the police arrive, no arrests were made, and Bundy and the other protesters continue their discussion with the officers.
The meeting was supposed to begin at 8:30 a.m. and by 9 the board announced the meeting was canceled.
SDHW released a statement on Facebook soon after the incident. It says,
Southwest District Health’s Board of Health cancelled the special Board of Health meeting scheduled for today due to safety concerns. The meeting will be rescheduled at a later date to be determined. The Zoom video recording will not be available for public viewing from Thursday, July 16, 2020 as the Board of Health meeting was not called to order or started.
Bundy spoke with KTVB about the incident.
He are some of the quotes from his interview with KTVB,
We showed up to the building, they informed us it was locked, there was never anything said about ‘You can come in if you wear a mask, if you go through the process.
We fully expected to get into the meeting and participate like the public should and the law requires.
We don’t live in a monarchy, we live in a constitutional republic. The power is supposed to be to our representatives. It’s not right, it’s not lawful and I certainly will challenge it in every way that I possibly can.
I watched the video afterwards and felt like we handled it well. I felt like we were calm, assertive though in our rights. Sometimes freedom gets a little sticky and even ugly and I think we handled it well.
Throughout the video, there are a number of conversations that take place with protesters arguing that the board has no legal authority to mandate that other citizens wear masks.
At one point in the video, a woman yells that someone hit her child by opening a door. However, while you can hear the mother scream about what allegedly happened, there is no video evidence provided in the video circulating the internet that it did occur.
The Caldwell police for their part remained calm and helped calm the situation without any further escalation.
What do you think about the incident? Was one side at fault or did both sides have faults in what happened?
You can view the full incident in the video below.
Text RIGHTS to 80123 to join with your neighbors in defending rights! Ammon Bundy
Posted by Lori Marr on Thursday, July 16, 2020
Tags: Ammon Bundy, Caldwell, Coronavirus, Masks, SDWH