Tuesday evening, approximately 60 to 70 adults and children attended a demonstration on Kennedy Blvd. They voiced their opposition to mask requirements for students. Many of the demonstrators also spoke before the School Board. Reasons for their opposition varied from impaired learning, health and psychological harms, as well as demands for parental rights to decide for their children. Many questioned the science that mandated the use of masks. Others questioned the dangers of Covid 19 in children.
Jennifer Bentley of Odessa believed that masking is dangerous. “they’re breathing in their own CO2. CO2 is poison, ok?” Bentley also stated that she was not concerned about her children or her 6 grandchildren getting the virus. Some participants, such as Marina Margolles of Tampa, stated “Covid 19 is a scam. I don’t believe in Covid 19. It’s the flu, with another name.”
Ruth Lineberger, of Tampa stated that masking “is against their (the children’s) bodily rights. They’re 99.99% survival rate. They are not susceptible to this Covid. And the way that this pandemic is dictating, and it’s all about control. And you know who’s supposed to control these children? The parents, themselves. They make those decisions, not the school board, not the president of the United States, not the teachers. If the parents want them to wear masks, so be it. If the parents want them not to wear masks, so be it. That is what America is all about.”
Ledy Escalante, the mother of a 2 year old son, said “We ask that the school board respect our parental rights to choose for our own children by making masks optional.” As with all participants that were asked, Escalante stated she had no plans to vaccinate her child or herself. Also “children are largely not vectors for this virus. They don’t spread this virus. Also, I believe in, food is our medicine. I believe in re-eforcing our immune system with vitamins and whole food.”
Participation for the small demonstration was promoted on social media by Community Patriots of Tampa. Community Patriots is a right-wing organization based in Tampa that has celebrated violence.