“We know who you are. You can leave freely, but we will find you.”
Coronavirus is surging throughout Tennessee, news reports citing doctors are warning “hospitalizations could soon surpass last winter’s peak,” and the state’s Republican Governor Bill Lee refuses to implement any mask mandate despite having a vaccination rate that is the fifth lowest in the nation.
Tuesday night reportedly hundreds of anti-mask parents in one Tennessee county protested inside and outside a school board meeting on mask mandates. They yelled, waved signed saying “No: masks, contact tracing, quarantine,” “Let kids be kids,” and “Our kids have suffered enough.”
One woman appeared to raise her middle finger in protest, waving it at the school board members, while other parents promised to bring lawsuits.
Williamson County, Tennessee is home to about 238,000 people, and has been growing quickly over the past decade. It is one of the wealthiest counties in the country. Nearly 90% of its population is white, less than five percent Black. Almost six in ten adults over 25 have a college degree, more than 95% graduated high school.
Brinley Hineman, Anika Exum, and Natalie Allison, reporters for The Tennessean, and Matt Masters of Williamson Home Page posted videos Tuesday night of parents at the Williamson County Schools Board of Education meeting. The board voted to mandate masks.
Here’s the video I tried to tweet earlier but wouldn’t go through. A man was being disruptive during the Williamson County Schools meeting and deputies escorted him out. Dozens of enraged anti-mask parents followed. pic.twitter.com/5LXDCJiInW
— Brinley Hineman (@brinleyhineman) August 11, 2021
I caught this second disruption on video only moments later.
“I’ll see you in court,” the woman vowed. Lots of legal threats tonight of lawsuits. I wonder if we’ll see any come to fruition. pic.twitter.com/UMb481Froa
— Brinley Hineman (@brinleyhineman) August 11, 2021
“The decision came after an emotionally charged four-hour meeting with frequent disruptions by the anti-mask mandate crowd and tensions running high among all,” Hineman and Exum report at The Tennessean. “A majority of people who observed the meeting were maskless and interjected their personal comments dozens of times throughout the meeting. Only one person was escorted out by Williamson County deputies, but dozens of anti-mask mandate parents followed in support.”
“Masks will remain optional at middle and high schools, where most students are age 12 or above.”
Outside it was even worse, as police begged parents to stay peaceful.
“NO MORE MASKS!” could be heard outside the meeting room for the entirety of the almost 4-hour meeting. I’ve been to a lot of heated WCS board meetings in my now 7+ months in TN covering the district, but last night was a first. Thanks for capturing @formvscontent. https://t.co/Q7wwrPnr4u
— Anika Exum (she/her) (@aniexum) August 11, 2021
The parking lot after a school board meeting last night in Franklin, the wealthiest place in Tennessee. Parents harassed medical professionals who had spoken in favor of masks in schools. “We know who you are. You can leave freely, but we will find you.” pic.twitter.com/SzR0uvMeE7
— Natalie Allison (@natalie_allison) August 11, 2021
Hineman also tweeted, “I’ve never witnessed a public meeting devolve into chaos, threats and drama the way I did last night over safety and health precautions.”
There are at least 49 studies that prove masks work.
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