About 150 people gathered outside the Idaho Capitol on Saturday to stage one of many “Burn the Mask” rallies.
Reporter Sergio Olmos shared photos and videos from the demonstration held in Boise, which is one of the Idaho cities that currently requires mask-wearing in public. Attendees were seen at the steps of the Statehouse throwing disposable surgical masks into flaming metal barrels. Some of the rally-goers were accompanied by their children, who were encouraged to participate in the mask-burning—that is, until local authorities intervened and demanded the fires be extinguished.
Darr Moon, the husband of Idaho Rep. Dorthy Moon, shared a few words about the statewide rallies, explaining the general message behind the demonstration, which he referred to as a “rally” rather than a protest.
“We’re standing here to rein back government, to re-establish our Republican form of government—a government that has balance between the branches,” Moonn told Olmos. “We are [of the belief] that we need a well-defined government with certain boundaries, and that’s not what we have today. Our governor is appropriating money and pretty much running the show in Idaho.”
Federal, state, and local officials have continued to emphasize mask-wearing as an easy and effective way to mitigate the spread of coronavirus. A number of states and cities have implemented mask mandates at the advice of top health experts. However, several states, such as Texas and Mississippi, recently rescinded their statewide mask requirements, citing the decreasing number of virus-related hospitalizations and the growing number of vaccinations.
President Joe Biden slammed the governors of Texas and Mississippi over their decisions to end their statewide mask mandates, calling it a result of “Neanderthal thinking.” At one point during Saturday’s Boise rally, a demonstrator was seen throwing a photo of Biden into a fire, as onlooker can be heard saying, “It’s a symbolic burning.”
According to the New York Times, Idaho has tallied more than 173 confirmed cases of coronavirus and over 1,800 virus-related deaths since the start of the pandemic.