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Anti-mask protesters charged in school board meeting uproar

July 6, 2021 GMT

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Several anti-mask protesters who disrupted a school district board meeting in Utah earlier this year are now facing criminal charges, officials said.

The 11 protesters were charged with disorderly conduct and disrupting a public meeting late last week. Granite School District spokesperson Ben Horsley says police are still searching for another person who was accused of being involved in the confrontation.

About 30 to 40 protesters disrupted the May 4 meeting amid news that Utah public schools would require masks through the end of the school year. After board members abruptly ended the meeting, the parents remained on the district’s campus and police were called. Video of the meeting was shared widely on social media.

“There are repercussions for these actions and the board was unable to conduct its business as a result of these disruptive criminal actions,” Horsley said in a statement. “The board and district encourage civil discourse as we model appropriate behavior for our children and students.”

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The meeting was held after Utah reached criteria required for COVID-19 public health mandates to expire. However, the Utah Department of Health did not lift the mask order for K-12 schools.

Parents attending the meeting argued against continuing the requirement. Many questioned why masks would still be required in schools while they are not elsewhere.

The meeting devolved into disorder during the public comment session, video of the event obtained by KUTV-TV showed, when former school board member and Democratic state Sen. Kathleen Riebe tried to speak but was booed and yelled over by people in the audience.