As states allow more businesses to reopen, the debate on whether or not face masks are required is impossible to ignore. In response to some government officials mandating masks in their cities or states, people are protesting with a new challenge — the “Burn Your Mask” challenge.
This week, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper stated that he was considering a mandatory mask order. Other states and cities, like California, currently have mandatory mask orders in place. These require people to wear masks in indoor spaces (grocery stores, retail businesses), while using public transportation, and at outdoor spaces where social distancing is not possible. However, people are now protesting these orders in an effort to protect their personal freedom.
The Attempt to “#IgniteFreedom”
A Facebook group called “ReOpen NC” suggested that their followers should not only not use the masks, but set them on fire. In a recent video, the group’s co-founder Ashley Smith recorded herself lighting a mask on fire and announcing the challenge.
As she prods the flaming mask, she proclaims, “And these masks were made in China! Didn’t the virus start in China?”
“As you know we’re a group that is completely against mandatory anything. We’re for personal liberty and the Constitution and personal freedom and I’m just here today to start what I hope is going to be a campaign of everybody participating,” she said. “I’m standing up and I’m saying ‘I will not comply.'”
Smith then said she was challenging viewers to buy a box of surgical masks and burn them. She demonstated by placing a mask into a cast iron skillet and setting it on fire.
In a second video, someone roasts a hotdog over a burning mask as the “Star Spangled Banner” plays in the background. The two challenge videos urged participants to use #IgniteFreedom on their videos protesting masks.
Now, Reopen NC is calling for “National No Mask Day” — a nationwide day of protest against masks orders everywhere.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently recommend face masks because “a cloth face covering may not protect the wearer, but it may keep the wearer from spreading the virus to others.” The CDC recommends face masks in public spaces where social distancing is difficult to maintain.