BOISE, Idaho — During Small Business Saturday, businesses in downtown Boise were confronted by groups of protesters who claimed their mask policies were illegal. The groups, refusing to wear masks, entered the businesses and refused to leave when asked.
“It was a very unsettling and scary situation,” said Rebecca Rogers, manager of Dragonfly.
The clothing and gift shop was targeted by a group of anti-mask protesters that came into the store to serve them with paperwork because of the business' mask requirement.
“We told these people they need to put masks on or leave," Rogers said. "They refused to leave, they refused to listen to us."
Rogers and the store owner repeatedly asked the group to leave the property.
“And they didn’t, they decided they were going to stand at the counter, create a scene, intimidate us, threaten us,” she said.
Dragonfly was not the only establishment confronted with protesters. Groups traveled to about 20 businesses downtown to hand them paperwork. Live streams of the protests were posted on the public Facebook group Civil Rights Mask Movement.
These groups handed out paperwork threatening legal action if the store continued to implement their mask policy. The group created a scene that was very uncomfortable for the customers, according to Rogers.
“When people aren’t listening to you and they stand there in front of you not doing what you’re telling them to do, it’s incredibly intimidating and we were starting to get a little scared,” she said.
KTVB reached out to Boise Police with questions about the series of incidents on Saturday. They issued a statement on the matter.
The statement reads:
“On Saturday, BPD received 19 calls from businesses downtown about a group of protestors going into stores without masks. After responding to multiple of these calls, officers were able to contact a portion of the group and have a conversation with them about the public health order and their activities. BPD is following up with businesses and the prosecutors regarding the incident.”
No citations were issued Saturday, but BPD says there still could be citations stemming from what happened across downtown Boise on Saturday.
Aside from citations, Rogers was worried about the health and safety of staff and customers.
“The health of our customers was put at risk," she said. "People came into the store and did not expect to happen. It’s bewildering and infuriating."
The team at Dragonfly wants people to be held accountable for harassing and threatening them when they are simply enforcing a public health order designed to keep the community healthy.
“It’s like they are coming into our homes because this place means a lot to us and it is so personal,” Rogers said. “These people should be held accountable for what they are doing and how they are behaving. It’s unacceptable, absolutely unacceptable.”
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