Lethbridge anti-mask protesters crowd city council meeting
Group of 60-80 people not wearing masks or physical distancing
A Lethbridge city council meeting was interrupted Tuesday by a crowd of people who made their way into chambers in order to protest the city's masking bylaw.
The group was estimated to have been between 60 and 80 people who were not wearing masks and not physically distanced, according to Lethbridge Coun. Ryan Parker.
They were led by Lee Mein, who posted on Facebook that he had organized the protest.
Parker describes the delay as "peaceful," but says some of his colleagues made the decision to leave chambers when they arrived, though he stayed.
"They were very peaceful. They were there for less than five minutes and then they left … it was actually very symbolic and explains what a lot of people are thinking right now," said Parker.
Coun. Rob Miyashiro left the council meeting and chose to participate remotely once it restarted.
"After he said his piece, they hooted and hollered and left council chambers," said Miyashiro.
"So really this was them just saying we don't need to follow your rules. There was no risk of there being an incident. They were just being inconsiderate, they were being unsafe, they were being callous."
Anti-maskers are occupying Council Chambers...led by Lee Mein. They're having a great old time, whooping it up like it's a party. Most Councillors have left Chambers, but a couple are hanging out 🙄—@RobMiyashiro1
Parker, who voted against a mask bylaw in Lethbridge, says there wasn't a chance for the public to engage in the bylaw decision so he understands why the crowd was there.
"They really didn't have their voices heard … so people were frustrated. So I understood that."
As of Aug. 24, the southern Alberta city has required people to wear masks in all public spaces and public vehicles.
"For them to say that this isn't real and we don't need to do this, I don't understand it," said Miyashiro. "When it's widespread in the media, it's widespread around the world how dangerous and contagious this virus is."
In the act of protesting, the group violated the city's Temporary Mandatory Face Covering bylaw. However, no bylaw tickets were handed out in connection to the incident, according to the City of Lethbridge.
CBC News has reached out to the protest organizer but has yet to hear back.
With files from Tahirih Foroozan