Kids hold signs at the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) building as protestors speak about the ISBE's mask guidelines for the schools for the fall semester on Saturday, July 25, 2020 in Springfield, IL. (Jared Treece | @bisalo )
Kids hold signs at the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) building as protestors speak about the ISBE's mask guidelines for the schools for the fall semester on Saturday, July 25, 2020 in Springfield, IL.

Jared Treece | @bisalo

‘My child my choice:’ Demonstrators gather to protest mask mandate in schools

Around 150 demonstrators gathered at the Illinois state capitol to voice their opposition to state guidelines requiring students to wear masks when they return to school. 

July 25, 2020

 

Around 150 demonstrators gathered at the Illinois state capitol to voice their opposition to state guidelines requiring students to wear masks when they return to school. 

The demonstration was called the “Million Unmasked March” and the mantra of the protesters was “my child my choice.”

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Michael Rebresh, one of the organizers of the march, said children should never be “forced into wearing a mask to return to school.”

“It’s time to send our kids back to school in the only condition that is acceptable and that is one that is normal, in every way, and every day and without a da** mask, ” Rebresh said. “It’s time to take our state back. What does the science say? It’s my choice, it’s my child.”

Rep. Darren Bailey also spoke at the event. Bailey represents Southern Illinois’ 109th district and has become known for challenging Gov. JB Pritzker’s stay at home order.

Bailey said the day was about “freedom over fear.”

“We are being fed a lot of untruthfulness for what I believe is simply compliance for us to take away our rights,” Bailey said. “So god bless you over there [pointing at counter-protesters] if you want to wear your mask you are more than welcome to that’s awesome. I shouldn’t be condemning you for doing that, but do not condemn me for not wanting to wear a mask.”

Throughout the course of the demonstration, a few counter-protesters gathered across the street, wearing masks, holding signs and heckling the protesters. 

One of the signs, held by Glenwood High School junior Trevor Good, read “My teachers are elderly stop trying to kill them.”

Another sign read: “Which 3 kids from your school are you ‘ok’ with dying?? Have you told the parents?”

Protesters would occasionally cross the street to yell back at the counter-protesters and one woman was arrested after she yelled at and spit on counter-protester Evan McKean.

McKean said he was there for his children.

“I’m here for responsibility, I have two young children who are going back to school and I think it’s unacceptable for these people not to wear masks.”

After about an hour and a half of speeches, the protesters marched to the Illinois State Board of Education before dispersing.

The CDC’s guidelines for masks can be viewed here. The CDC says it is important for everyone who is able to, to wear a mask in public to slow the spread of COVID-19.

To view a video with footage from the march by staff photographer Jared Treece, click here.

Editor in Chief Kallie Cox can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @KallieECox.

To stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

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1 Comment

One Response to “‘My child my choice:’ Demonstrators gather to protest mask mandate in schools”

  1. Victor White on July 25th, 2020 5:40 pm

    Wearing a mask during the COVID-19 Pandemic has been scientifically proven to reduce transmission of the COVID-19 virus from the person wearing the mask to another person.

    If two people within 6 feet of each other or less are both wearing clothe masks, the transmission rate between the 2 individuals is reduced by approximately 95%.

    Everyone wearing a basic clothe mask greatly reduces COVID-19 transmission from person to person.

    It is a simple, cost effective public health tool that benefits individuals and society.

    More mask wearing would also benefit the economy and restaurants whom depend on customers being comfortable enough to visit their establishments regularly.

    There are no legitimate medical conditions that prohibit wearing a mask, only illegitimate political ones.

    People with asthma, COPD, emphysema, etc can and should wear masks.

    Wearing a mask is not comfortable for anyone, but it is the right thing to do to protect other people

    For those who proclaim “My Child My Choice”, your actions and the actions of your child affect other people. They live in a society, not in isolation. For those who say “I have a right not to wear a mask”, you do not have a right to make me or my family sick with your voluntarily irresponsible non-mask wearing behavior.

    If you cared about your child instead of yourself, you would have your child wear a mask when needed.

    We wear masks in Surgery for a reason; to stop the spread of infection that could harm the patient.

    No one in Surgery gets to say “I have the right not to wear a mask here”: Whomever says that is gently escorted out of the surgical suite by Security or the Police.

    Wear the mask, help your family, yourself and society, and find something more substantial to complain about.

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