BOISE, Idaho — On Thursday afternoon, Boise Mayor Lauren McLean issued a public health order requiring people to wear masks in public places in Boise starting on Independence Day.
The Mayor issued this order in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus as the number of cases in Ada County has spiked in the last couple of weeks.
Health Freedom Idaho quickly organized a protest, and a few hundred people showed up at City Hall Friday morning to voice their opposition to the mask mandate.
"We should have the freedom to make our own choices, do our own research, ask questions and have conversations, and not be bullied because we are standing up for something that is not mainstream," said Kelsey Scranton, who had a sign that said I am not anti-masks, I am anti-mandated-masks. "Everybody wants to have a voice and have freedom."
Freedom was one of the central themes of the protest. Many people we talked to think this order violates their constitutional rights.
"When are we going to stand up and reclaim our freedom?" asked James Kroshus. "Our founding fathers did it over tea, over taxation, and now our government local and federal are trying to control every aspect of our life."
The protest was peaceful, but the protesters also burned several masks and chanted, "We will not comply," in front of City Hall.
People also expressed their concerns about giving in to the mandate because they say that would make them worry about would come next.
"It might be just a mask today, but it is going to be something else tomorrow," said Scranton. "We are standing up peacefully and kindly saying, 'no thank you.' I'll wear a mask if I want to but you can't tell me that I have to, and I'm not going to pay a fine or go to jail or get a misdemeanor because I won't cover my face."
The penalty for not wearing a mask is a misdemeanor and will be enforced by the Boise Police, but the city will focus more on education than enforcement, according to a city official.
The City of Boise also gave away masks for free at two different locations on Friday morning.