FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida – As Americans grow weary of the coronavirus pandemic, sentiments against mandated mask-wearing and vaccines continue to be unfurled.
One recent event featured hundreds of people burning face masks and voicing opposition to COVID-19 shots as they marched at Las Olas Beach, the Highway A1A hotspot made famous during spring break over the years in Fort Lauderdale.
The April 10 protest was billed as the “Million Maskless March,” and the crowd was estimated to be between 200 and 500.
“We are done with it. We are saying, ‘No more masks!’” activist Steven Hoffman told Daniel Varela, a videographer for the Miami Herald. “We are not going to take it anymore. It has become a symbol of tyranny and oppression on the people.”
“There were hundreds of people here burning their masks, and this is a sentiment that is shared by more people than you may think. You may think, Oh we’re a bunch of kooks or something like that. We are not!
“We are now the majority and we are sending a very clear message that we’re over this. We’re over the masks. We are asking our governor, Gov. DeSantis, to end the state of emergency and end all mask mandates in the state of Florida. And God bless you.”
Annie G. noted: “The reason I’m against the mask, because it’s not helping anybody. It’s killing more people than it’s saving people. … Even when little kids have to wear ’em, I have a problem with that too. So I’m here because a lot of people do not know the truth, they don’t want to hear the truth.
“So they go around with the mask on their face outside, in their cars, wherever. And if you would take that mask off and put it under a microscope, you’re gonna find all kinds of germs that you don’t want to inhale.”
Honor Lorenz, who moved to South Florida from Ohio after becoming enthralled with Fort Lauderdale after she saw the 1960 film “Where the Boys Are,” told WND the spring-break scene could now be described as “Where the Patriots Are.”
“It was a beautiful, hot, sunny day, and there were swarms of people and cars everywhere,” she said. “Giant trucks were waving Don’t Tread on Me and Old Glory flags in the endless Las Olas gridlock. There were people of all ages protesting near the sidewalk, but most were in their teens, 20s and 30s. More than half of them were women.
“On the beach, mostly unmasked, bikini-clad people went about their sun worshipping as hundreds of protesters waved all manner of anti-mask, pro-freedom signs right under a city banner admonishing them to ‘Wear A Facial Covering. Follow CDC Guidelines.’
“I wondered if the few sunbathers who did wear masks would go home proudly sporting COVID tan lines on their faces. Later, as I returned through much more gridlock for the post-protest pick-up, I thought of what that beach had meant to me forty years earlier. It had represented fun and freedom, one last hurrah before the passage into adulthood as I left university. If I could get to Fort Lauderdale, I reasoned, I could get anywhere.
“Now that same iconic, rite-of-passage beach had become a meeting place for people of all ages on a serious mission. But it was still about freedom, the freedom I was lucky enough to take for granted forty years ago.”
Some of the messages on signs and T-shirts stated:
- “Stop being sheeple”
- “I can’t breathe!”
- “No vaccine passports”
- “Good little sheep wear their mask”
- “Stop government interference”
- “Masks are slavery”
- “Fear is being used to control you”
- “No masks, No vaccines, My body, My choice”
- “No mandated muzzle”
- “Freedom over fear”
- “Major League Baseball [loves] CCP, hates USA. Boycott MLB”
- “Unmask your freedom”
- “Free your beautiful smile”
- “COVID-19 is a scam”
- “Defund the media”
One sign even featured an extended middle finger with a message reading, “Mask This Biden.”
Though the Miami Herald had a videographer at the scene, it did not publish a typical news story on the event, according to a search of the Herald archives. The other major newspaper that covers the area, the Fort Lauderdale-based Sun-Sentinel, also did not provide any coverage of the march, according to a search of its archives.
See coverage of the event from NBC6 TV in Miami:
Online reactions to the videos mostly favor the anti-maskers, including:
- “Cheering for Florida! These wimpy masks have zero chance of stopping a virus. Never did. Never will. Harsh prison sentences for those who made us wear them.”
- “My Body, My Choice. Sound Familiar?”
- “Need to do this from coast to coast, and then overthrow legislators! Come together!”
- “Boycott everything ‘WOKE’ too.”
- “I wear a mask and go places where others do too. However, I’m willing to let people be different without judgment if anyone’s right or wrong. Let’s let everyone get through this temporary time with good manners and smiling eyes.”
- “I don’t do stupid things and do not do what stupid people tell me to do. Go boss your oppressed minions around.”
- “If you can’t go about your life, having to wear it against yourself even after taking the vaccine or already having covid or not being sick, then technically wearing a mask is a form of control, a.k.a. slavery of obedience.”
- “These [TV] news people have no issue lying and spreading misinformation. Propaganda media needs to be dismantled and these news people shamed for their complicity to the tyranny.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control is still recommending the wearing of masks.
“You should wear a mask, even if you do not feel sick,” the CDC says. “This is because several studies have found that people with COVID-19 who never develop symptoms (asymptomatic) and those who are not yet showing symptoms (pre-symptomatic) can still spread the virus to other people. Wearing a mask helps protect those around you, in case you are infected but not showing symptoms.
“It is especially important to wear a mask when you are indoors with people you do not live with and when you are unable to stay at least 6 feet apart since COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact with one another.”
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