Friday, anti-mask protesters with ties to the extremist group the Proud Boys tried to escort a student who refused to comply with public health guidelines into Skyview High School in Vancouver, Washington. Patriot Prayer and other far-right groups had falsely claimed online that the student would face arrest if she entered the school without a mask. (She'd probably just be asked to leave or put on a mask, just like with any routine enforcement of a dress code.)

The student's mother, Megan Gabriel, had requested that her daughter, an incoming freshman, be able to opt out of the mask requirement because she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety. This is conceivably true, just as Ferris Bueller was definitely a very sick boy. The school denied the request, because you'd end up with half the students not wearing masks, which would put everyone at risk. Inevitably, there was an anti-mask protest outside the school, with parents of other Skyview students holding signs and demanding the student receive a medical exemption from cloth facial coverings.

One of the assholes prayed over the young girl, asking their fascist God to “raise up the hedge of protection around her," and urged men in the community to follow her example. This is a child, so we won't share the video of him putting his grubby hands all over her. Suffice to say, the whole scene was more triggering than wearing a mask.


The protesters carried signs stating "Masking kids=abuse" and "Medical choice: Your body, your choice." That last one is especially galling to see rightwingers proclaim right now. Reportedly, some of the protesters yelled slurs at female students, who were also children. Several of the protesters wore the Proud Boys' yellow and black gang colors.

The school's security guards, who used to have a decent gig before the mass shootings and fascist uprisings, prevented the protesters from entering, but the disturbance was serious enough that Vancouver Public Schools put Skyview High, along with nearby Alki Middle School and Chinook Elementary, on lockdown.

"As a safety precaution, Skyview, Alki and Chinook were put into a lockdown on Sept. 3 due to a disturbance by protesters who attempted to come onto Skyview's campus," said Patricia Nuzzo, communications director for Vancouver Public Schools, according to KGW8. "This is related to yesterday's protest against Washington state's requirement for staff and students to wear masks or face coverings in schools and on buses."

Gabriel claims she isn't anti-mask or anti-vaccine. She said she wears a mask when indoors and her son wears a mask at school. But she insists that masks triggers panic attacks in her daughter. Nuzzo wouldn't go into specifics about a minor student's situation, but she confirmed that Vancouver Public Schools will provide accommodations for those who genuinely qualify for medical exemptions. What's happened lately is that almost half the nation wants to suddenly claim they have a pre-existing medical or religious reason for wantonly spreading COVID-19. School officials can't rubber stamp these exemptions or schools will shut down again.

Last week, three deranged men attempted to abduct a school principal in Tucson, Arizona, because one of their sons was asked to quarantine after a COVID-19 exposure. They claimed they were making a “citizen's arrest," but they obviously don't know how the law works. One of them was carrying goddamn zip ties. They're obviously the ones who should end up in custody.

"My door is open to talk to parents. But the way he did it was not OK," said Diane Vargo, principal at Mesquite Elementary School. "Bringing zip ties to a principal's office — that's not OK." [ ... ]

"He had video in my face, and two other men barged into my office. And one of them was carrying zip ties. … They were three big men. I was scared. My assistant was scared," Vargo said.

This principal was almost the victim in a “Criminal Minds" episode. That's probably more traumatic for students than wearing masks. Children are adaptable and could easily make it through this school year safely if their parents behaved like grownups, but we're afraid this is just the start of a disturbing trend. Someone's going to get seriously hurt.

[The Daily Beast /OPB]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."

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