Angry Floridians Threaten Citizen's Arrest of Official After Mask Mandate

A group of Floridians in Palm Beach County who were angry about a new mask mandate threatened a county official with citizen's arrest on Tuesday.

County officials passed a unanimous vote after about three hours of debate and remarks from residents who attended the meeting, many of whom were unhappy with the result. Some in attendance even attempted to perform a citizen's arrest on District 6 Commissioner Melissa McKinlay.

"They did rush the dais," McKinlay told CNN's New Day. "We had to empty the chamber and we had to disinfect the chamber because nobody in our room was following the social distancing guidelines. They pounded on our secure door that's at the back of our room there. They threatened citizen's arrest."

McKinlay told Newsweek about 50 anti-mask protesters attended the meeting, most of whom participated in the screaming and shouting once the measure was passed.

When McKinlay had to leave the meeting early because of a prior appointment, she needed to be escorted by law enforcement. She told Newsweek, "Thanks to the good men and women of the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Department, I was escorted to my vehicle without incident."

Many of those who attended the meeting opposed the mask mandate. One county resident told officials at the meeting, "You disgrace me. You know why? You did not listen to 'we the people.' You made your decision."

Another resident said she hoped all the officials get voted out for voting for the mandate, according to footage of the meeting from WPTV.

A resident told the local news station, "We are against not masks but mandatory masks. We believe that it is our body, our choice."

Florida has reported 101,303 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and 3,238 deaths attributed to COVID-19. Palm Beach County has seen 11,051 confirmed virus cases and 476 deaths. Over 1,700 new cases were reported within the county in the past seven days.

County officials implemented the new rule to try to slow the virus's spread, and masks will now have to be worn in public spaces. McKinlay told CNN that while residents say this mandate amounts to a constitutional crisis, officials see it more as a guideline, similar to wearing clothes in public or putting on a seat belt.

"This isn't a constitutional crisis. It's a public health emergency," McKinlay told Newsweek.

"Asking people to temporarily wear masks to slow the spread of this virus is good public health policy. And it's the least we can do to respect the 121,225 and counting families who lost loved ones to this viral enemy," she said, referring to the total number of coronavirus-related deaths thus far in the United States.

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Beachgoers at Miami Beach on June 10. In Palm Beach County, officials recently voted to impose a mask mandate in public spaces. Cliff Hawkins/Getty