Mask Protestors Force Adjournment Of Howell School Board Meeting
April 13, 2021
By Jon King / firstname.lastname@example.org
Protestors from a group calling itself Unmask Livingston and Surrounding Areas attended the Howell Public Schools Board of Education meeting Monday, refusing to wear masks and forcing the board to adjourn before any business could be attended to.
District officials said because the members were in violation of state health department orders that attendees must wear masks, the board voted to adjourn and reschedule the meeting for April 19th. District Spokesman Tom Gould sent the following statement when asked by WHMI about the adjournment. "On Monday, April 12, 2021, the Howell Public Schools Board of Education voted to adjourn its meeting early due to a number of people in attendance who were not in compliance with the current Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Epidemic Order requiring attendees to wear a face mask. The meeting will be rescheduled for Monday, April 19, 2021. The district will be exploring its options to safely hold the rescheduled meeting."
In a video sent to WHMI, a group of protestors confronts Howell Superintendent Erin MacGregor after the meeting had been adjourned, exclaiming that the board was violating their rights by not allowing them to attend the meeting without masks. They are heard insisting they have medical proof that masks are not effective, contrary to numerous scientific studies and guidance by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. They also insist that there is no legal mandate that the health department orders be enforced.
Unmask Livingston and Surrounding Areas, which advocates for the elimination of all COVID-related restrictions, said on Facebook it was “rallying the troops” to attend the meeting, adding that they did not have to be a resident of Howell to attend. It added that members should attend the meeting to “educate, protect and advocate for our God-given and constitutionally protected rights.”
Howell Public Schools reported ten additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 among students and staff on Monday, among 19 cases reported since Friday in the district. None of the cases are believed to be connected to in-school transmission, which is largely attributable to the district's enforcement of mask-wearing and social distancing guidelines. Meanwhile, the rising tide of infections still has an effect on schools due to the increasing number of people, including teachers and substitutes, that have to be quarantined as a result.
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Michigan currently leads the nation in COVID infections, case rates and hospitalizations, which health officials say is largely being driven by the rapid spread of various COVID variants, which are more transmissible, and declining levels of compliance with basic safety measures like mask-wearing and social distancing.
The group also reportedly showed up at the Brighton Area Schools Board of Education meeting as it was adjourning, and angrily confronted board members after they had agreed to return to a hybrid meeting format. However, the specific nature of their complaint to Brighton school officials seemed to center on the district’s continued adherence to the state health department’s mask policy.
The group was assisted in promoting attendance at the Howell school board meeting by Guardians of Freedom Michigan (GOFM), which said on Facebook it was working, “to help inform and organize to take back our state, one community at a time.” The group was formed in January and states it “believes in having meetings that any Michigander can easily attend. GOFM stands on the belief and understanding that our federal and state Constitutions are based on God's Word, the Bible.” It is fundraising on the GiveSendGo crowdfunding site.
Unmask Livingston County & Surrounding Areas is rallying the troops for the Howell School Board meeting TONIGHT, April...Posted by Guardians of Freedom Michigan on Monday, April 12, 2021
Both the Guardians of Freedom and Unmask Livingston and Surrounding Areas sponsored a rally held Saturday at Scofield Park in Howell in which they advocated for “The U.S. Constitution, our rights, current events, our responsibilities, how to protect and restore our liberties, facts and data about COVID-19, the abuse of power through State of Emergency, the effects of mask wearing, protecting our youth from overreach of power, prayer and the Bible.”
It’s believed about 150 people attended the gathering, which was addressed by a variety of speakers. Included among them was Congressional candidate Mike Detmer; Tammy Clark, the Executive Director with Stand Up Michigan, an advocacy group fighting Gov. Whitmer’s COVID regulations; Christina Parks from Michigan for Vaccine Choice, a group that says it, “helps to increase community awareness of vaccine injuries, vaccine mandates, and the issue of vaccine choice,”; and Katherine Henry of Restore Freedom, which is seeking a ballot initiative to amend the Michigan Constitution in order to severely restrict the state’s executive emergency powers.