by Carol Denney, June 2020
On Your Mark, Get Set, Chaos, by Carol Denney
If you're paying attention you know that it is currently mandatory to wear a mask if you're going to or are attending a protest in the City of Berkeley, and that it is also, simultaneously, illegal to wear a mask if you're going to or attending a protest in the City of Berkeley.
Mother Jones magazine remarked on 2017's mask prohibition: "Last month in famously liberal Berkeley, California, where right-wingers have been planning rallies that seem intended to stir up raucous counter-protests—and which have drawn hundreds of masked opponents—city leaders passed an ordinance allowing the city manager to set ground rules as to what kinds of items cannot be worn or carried into protest areas. Masks and other face coverings have been banned at every local demonstration since." https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/09/masks-protests-antifa-black-bloc-explainer/
The Berkeley City Manager and mayor appear to have forgotten the mask prohibition in all their coronavirus pandemic pronouncements, so I sent an inquiry their way. The City Manager sent back this reply, saying "the current health order is a mandatory order. We are requiring that face masks or coverings be worn under this order. The health order supersedes the below prohibition as we are in a pandemic."
This joins the wealth of flatly contradictory health guidelines characteristic of our shared pandemic moment. If you wear a mask to a protest, well, good luck. And if you don't wear a mask to a protest, well...good luck. This is yet another clue to the real police accountability issues which almost never rise to the dignity of notice, let alone discussion, all of which have one thing in common; they were never about public safety.
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