California's renewed, holiday-season mask mandate for indoor public spaces is surely annoying people of many stripes in counties where they've gotten used to no masks again — not just the super Trump-y anti-maskers of yore. But there are still plenty of those!
Up in Mendocino County, we're now hearing of a group that's dubbed themselves Mendocino Patriots, and as you might guess they have a website that is littered with misinformation about COVID-19, vaccines, the "damage" caused by mask wearing, and ivermectin. Some of these people might have even been involved in a bussed-in protest in Healdsburg last week in which some anti-vaxxers rallied in support of an anti-vaxx city councilmember.
As Bay Area News Group reports, the group descended on several stores in Ukiah on November 27 as part of what they called a "mask-less shopping experience." One of those stores, the Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op, refused to do business with the group of 17 or so unmasked pseudo-libertarians, so the group reportedly tore open some chip bags, pulled food out of bulk bins, blocked registers, and generally made a nuisance of themselves for 20 minutes or so.
The group wasn't charged with any crimes, but Ukiah police responded to the grocery store to escort the anti-maskers out.
Ukiah Police Chief Noble Waidelich tells Bay Area News Group that he is aware that the group is trying to incite a legal conflict, and is eager to try to fight any sort of mask citation in court — so he's been careful not to issue any citations except for trespassing, when needed.
The group has a standing plan to protest at the Ukiah School Board meetings, one of which is happening Tuesday night. Chief Waidelich said he'd had officers on standby if needed, and "If people show up without a mask, they will be asked to leave, and the meeting will be closed if needed."
Thankfully we haven't seen covidiot shenanigans like this much around the Bay Area, and given that mask rules — apart from a period between June and July — have been fairly consistent for us, the state's latest mask order that takes effect Wednesday doesn't much change things (except at gyms and offices in San Francisco).
But it remains good to know that in any public health emergency, there will always be a segment of Americans who insist there's no emergency, and that public health isn't a thing.