"Here fire, you hungry? Here's another mask," a child can be heard saying in a video captured at the event.
About 100 anti-maskers gathered in front of the Idaho state capitol in Boise on Saturday, where they burned masks as a statement against restrictions put in place to limit infections and deaths caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Video and photos from the event show demonstrators encouraging children to dig into a trash bag filled with masks and toss them into the fire. According to NBC News, one of the organizers of the event was conservative activist Darr Moon, who is the husband of Republican state Rep. Dorothy Moon. Speaking to reporters, Moon said that masks and other pandemic restrictions aren't always needed in the state as it is mostly rural and has had low COVID-19 infection numbers.
A child says “here fire, you hungry? here’s another mask”— Sergio Olmos (@MrOlmos) March 6, 2021
A mask burning rally in boise, Idaho pic.twitter.com/MqNnaEKBP0
"Certain health districts are mandating or certain towns are mandating wearing masks and we just don't have the numbers here," he said. "The Covid numbers are very low. We've flattened the curve a long time ago and people want to go back to work, they want to have a normal life." Moon revealed that the Boise event was one of multiple Burn the Mask rallies across the state Saturday organized by several groups. He later shared photos of a similar event in Rexburg on Facebook.
In footage posted to Twitter by reporter Sergio Olmos, Moon said the Boise event represented a widespread grassroots uprising. "I think people need to realize that we’re standing here today to rein back government, to reestablish our republican form of government, government that has balance between the branches," he said. "And we're kind of that belief that we need well-defined government, certain boundaries and that's not what we have today." Other videos captured by Olmos also show a protester burning a mask with "Biden sucks" written on it while another burned a picture of "Sleepy Joe" as a child cheered.
Anti-lockdown Protestor burns “sleepy joe” photo on Idaho Capitol steps pic.twitter.com/M7jVffLCna— Sergio Olmos (@MrOlmos) March 6, 2021
Protesters were also filmed refusing a police request to put out a fire and asking the officers to go away. "Here fire, you hungry? Here's another mask," a child can be heard saying in one of the videos while throwing a mask into the flames. Idaho State Police revealed that no one was arrested in connection to the protest since organizers had permits but that the rally was under review due to a fire being started. "During the event, an open flame was ignited in a barrel," police said. "Those involved with the event were informed both before and during the event that open flames are not allowed on State Capitol grounds."
Darr Moon, of the organizers of “burn the mask” says this is a rally not a protest— Sergio Olmos (@MrOlmos) March 6, 2021
(He is married to Idaho state rep. Dorthy Moon) pic.twitter.com/g6oT4HifII
According to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, about 1 in 4 people who've tested for the virus in the past week in Idaho have turned up positive. The state has recorded 1876 COVID-19 deaths so far and while it does not mandate masks, it "strongly recommends" using them. Indoor and outdoor gatherings are limited to 50 or fewer people and bars and restaurants are required to place tables at least six feet apart and have all patrons stay seated.
Republican elected officials were at this event including Idaho Lt. Governor Janice K. McGeachin and Idaho state Rep. Dorothy Moon https://t.co/eVlJsYZ5kk— Sergio Olmos (@MrOlmos) March 7, 2021
Mask burning rally in Boise, Idaho pic.twitter.com/qX5JtO4d4P— Sergio Olmos (@MrOlmos) March 6, 2021
At a mask burning rally in Boise, Idaho a man throws a mask into the fire with the words “Biden sucks” written on it pic.twitter.com/7Py2pmeRQy— Sergio Olmos (@MrOlmos) March 6, 2021
"Keep practicing the things we know work. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Stay home if you’re sick," Republican Gov. Brad Little tweeted Thursday. "Together we will emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever and continue to Build Idaho’s Future!" Meanwhile, Idaho's House State Affairs Committee last week opened the way for debate on a bill that would prohibit mask mandates by government entities. "We're not against face masks," Moon said. "You know, some people might need to protect themselves. There are certain portions of the population that are elderly... they have issues. For healthy-bodied people, we want to go back to work. Our livelihoods have been put in jeopardy because of all the executive orders and mandates."