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Demonstrators burn masks in front of Idaho state Capitol

More than a hundred people gathered outside the Idaho state Capitol in Boise on Saturday for a “burn the mask” event to push back against local orders on face coverings amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Local reporters posted videos and photos on Twitter showing families, including young children and adults, at the steps of the building, gathered close together and not wearing masks. 

Some demonstrators hugged each other, while others displayed signs with messages such as “I will not self-suffocate.” 

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Several posters hanging outside the Capitol building said “BURN THE MASK” and “#FreeIdaho” and included crossed-out images of a face mask and papers that read “Emergency Orders” and “Mandates.” 

Demonstrators then began putting their masks into bins of fire, prompting cheers of support from fellow protesters. 

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One video posted on Twitter by Oregon Public Broadcasting reporter Sergio Olmos showed a demonstrator carrying an assault rifle and placing a picture of President BidenJoe BidenCornyn, Sinema to introduce bill aimed at addressing border surge Harris to travel to Northern Triangle region in June Biden expected to formally recognize Armenian Genocide: report MORE, whom he called “sleepy Joe,” into the fire. 

Reporters at the event noted that a number of children present were directed by their family members to burn their masks as well. 

One of the event’s organizers, Darr Moon, husband of Idaho state Rep. Dorothy Moon (R) told Olmos in a video posted on Twitter that the demonstration was a “rally” rather than a “protest.”  

“It’s important, and I think people need to realize that we’re standing here today to reign back government, to reestablish our Republican form of government, a government that has balance between the branches,” Darr Moon explained as a small American flag hung out of his front shirt pocket. 

“We’re kind of that belief that we need well-defined government and certain boundaries, and that’s not what we have today,” he added. 

Moon said that the mask-burning event was just one of several occurring across the state Saturday. 

The events come as calls have increased throughout Idaho and across the country against mask mandates and lockdown orders, with some arguing that the restrictions violate personal freedoms. 

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While Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) has resisted issuing a statewide mask mandate, he wears a mask in public and encourages citizens in the state to do so as well. 

Seven Idaho counties and 11 cities, including Boise, currently have mask mandates in place in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. 

A bill seeking to ban mask mandates was introduced in the Idaho state legislature this week. The Associated Press reported that Idaho state Rep. Karey Hanks (R) said the legislation was inspired by the “physical and emotional and even mental injuries to our bodies, and possibly even our souls, as healthy individuals are required to wear these masks.”

Multiple studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health agencies have shown that wearing masks helps protect the wearer and others from the virus that causes COVID-19.