'Destroy Them!' Children Burn Face Masks on Steps of Idaho Capitol in Anti-Mask Rally

Dozens of parents encouraged young children to burn masks on the steps of the Idaho state Capitol building Saturday morning in the latest "anti-masker" protest against pandemic facial coverings.

Saturday's "#FreeIdaho" mask burning event comes after Republican lawmakers in the state's House of Representatives narrowly passed legislation that would make any future mask mandates illegal. Adults at the rally in Boise could be heard instructing kids how to toss hundreds of masks into a trash can fire. "Destroy them!" one enthusiastic adult could be heard yelling as smiling children burned the masks inside the flaming trash can. "Not too fast, kids, be careful, watch the fire."

The issue of statewide mask mandates angered many GOP lawmakers across the country, but Idaho legislators were so incensed by the idea that they voted last month to prevent any level of government from taking such action again.

Saturday's March 6 mask burning protest in Boise was organized by the Free Idaho group that also put together simultaneous "burn sites" in the towns of Sandpoint, Bonners Ferry, Laclede, Coeur d'Alene, St. Maries, Plummer and Tensed.

"Not all at once," one adult voice could be heard advising as the children tossed dozens of blue and white masks into the metal trash can, according to video shared on Twitter by Sergio Olmos of Oregon Public Broadcasting. "OK, that's enough for right now. Just watch and let them burn."

Multiple cheering adults could be seen helping kids grab the masks in order to toss them into the fire. American flags were waved by several older attendees, including at least two in wheelchairs. This is not the first "anti-masker" rally in the state. Last August, a mask-burning barbecue event was held near the Panhandle Health District building in Hayden.

"Join us for a MASK BURNING BBQ at Panhandle Health this Tuesday August 18 @ 11 am. Please bring any sides, chips, buns and anything you would like to grill (masks included)," read last year's invitation, as circulated by the North Idaho Exposed YouTube channel.

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety," read a sign held up by one protester, a quote from Benjamin Franklin that many historians say is frequently taken out of context.

On February 22, the North Dakota House of Representatives passed a bill by two votes to make any future attempts at a statewide mask mandate illegal—no matter what health crisis may occur. "Our state is not a prison camp," said GOP Representative Jeff Hoverson.

Newsweek reached out to the Free Idaho group that organized Saturday's mask-burning event as well as two GOP members of the state legislature.

idaho mask burning anti-masker
Parents encouraged their kids to burn COVID face masks at a Boise event on Saturday on the steps of Idaho's Capitol building. Screenshot: YouTube | Sergio Olmos