Agroup of adult anti-mask protesters held a demonstration outside of a California elementary school on Wednesday, specifically targeting the children leaving the school. Footage of their efforts has since gone viral on social media.
According to a report from Patch News, six men and women armed with anti-mask signs and pamphlets protested outside Hawthorne Elementary School on Wednesday.
A Beverly Hills school district spokesperson confirmed to the outlet that the group timed their demonstration to catch students at dismissal between 2:15 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
Footage of the maskless group's efforts to get children to abandon their face coverings was posted in a Twitter thread by Beverly Hills Courier reporter Samuel Braslow.
Signs visible on camera include phrases like "Masks = Child Abuse" and "Masks are a compliance check."
In one video, an unmasked woman is heard calling out to children, "I am positive you hate that mask. And it smells bad!" A nearby protester adds, "No one likes the mask."
Another clip shows school administrators and campus security trying to control the protesters. As a masked school official is seen interacting with the group, the unidentified woman calls out to a child passing by: COVID is a scam. It's a lie. They are lying to you." A woman on campus quickly pulls the girl away.
The video that has most viewers shocked on both Twitter and Reddit is the moment protesters try to give anti-mask informational flyers to passing children. None of the children take a pamphlet; all are wearing masks.
One student does take a moment to look at what the paper says but backs away with their hands up a moment later. The video ends with a protester saying, "I know you hate the mask."
Viewers were appalled by the group's actions. "The KIDS are a lot smarter [than] these adults," one shocked Redditor commented. An anonymous Twitter user agreed: "Imagine waking up and thinking the best use of your time was to go taunt school children."
Hawthorne Elementary School Principal Sarah Kaber told parents that in anticipation of the protest, the campus hired additional security for the day in an email obtained by Patch News. Officers from the Beverly Hills Police Department were also in attendance as an extra precaution.
"We support every person's constitutional rights when on public property," Kaber wrote. "We ask for your support in de-escalating and disengaging with any heightened feelings in order to make our students feel calm and safe."
The Beverly Hills school also noted that, to the chagrin of the anti-mask protesters, students are asked to pack two masks for class and each room has a plethora of cleaning and personal protection supplies.
This demonstration was the latest one protesting COVID-19 safety guidelines in California. In January, a group of anti-maskers live-streamed their protest outside of a Los Angeles mall and complained that they were denied service without a face covering.