Months into the pandemic, the debate about whether or not to wear a face-covering continues — even though the president now supports wearing masks. One large anti-mask group, the “Freedom to Breath Agency,” has gone viral several times for their anti-mask agenda. Back in June, they circulated a template for a fake face mask exemption card. Now, they’re telling store employees they face lawsuits for insisting customers to wear masks.
Last week, members of FTBA were recorded telling a grocery store employee from Orange County, California that she couldn’t enforce customers to wear a mask. According to Buzzfeed News, cashiers at the store had been directed to tell a supervisor if customers weren’t following the store’s mask requirements. In this instance, it was two women wearing “FTBA” badges and no masks.
Once approached and told to wear masks, one of the women, identified as FTBA founder Lenka Koloma, told the worker she was putting herself into a “major legal liability.” The mini-speech was recorded and uploaded to TikTok and Twitter, where it went viral.
Liz Chavez, the manager recorded in the video, described the encounter with FTBA to Buzzfeed News. She believes they weren’t there to shop, but waiting for someone to approach them and tell them to wear a mask.
“The piece of paper they gave me was basically telling me I could go to prison for up to three to five years and I could get fined up to $10,000 for telling them to wear a mask if I’m not a doctor,” she said. The piece of paper isn’t the first time the FTBA has circulated false documents to promote their anti-mask agenda.
FTBA Provides Face Mask Exemption Cards
FTBA’s cards first gained traction after former NSYNC star Lance Bass tweeted a photo of the card to warn businesses from being fooled.
“HEADS UP fellow businesses…This is not a thing. This is what happens when Arts and Crafts Karens have too much time on their hands. We will throw it in the trash and send them on their way,” he tweeted.
HEADS UP fellow businesses…. This is not a thing. This is what happens when Arts and Crafts Karens have too much time on their hands. We will throw it in the trash and send them on their way. pic.twitter.com/VKACSA3pRU— Lance Bass (@LanceBass) June 24, 2020
DOJ Confirms the Card Is Fake
The Department of Justice confirmed that the card is not a real thing.
The card falsely claims that its holder is “exempt from any ordinance requiring face mask usage in public.” According to the card, wearing a face mask “posses a mental and/or physical risk” to the owner. It cites the Americans with Disability Act and says that the holder doesn’t need to explain their condition to businesses. The card also states that businesses that violate ADA could face fines up to $150,000.
According to Newsweek, FTBA previously identified themselves as the Anti-Mask Task Force.
The group’s Facebook page said the group was “designed to stop face mask orders from spreading nationwide and globally.” Previously, another Facebook group made headlines for trying to start the “Burn Your Mask” challenge to protest mask orders.
“The Department of Justice has been made aware of postings or flyers on the internet regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the use of face masks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of which include the Department of Justice’s seal,” reads an alert on the DOJ’s info page for ADA. They emphasized that they didn’t issue the cards, nor do they endorse them.