Anti-maskers are getting more violent — and Trump's not helping


Two sisters in Chicago stabbed a security guard after he told them to use hand sanitizer and wear masks.

Two sisters are accused of stabbing a security guard this week in a store in the Homan Square neighborhood of Chicago 27 times after he asked them to wear masks and use hand sanitizer.

The alleged attack is the latest violent incident surrounding requests that people wear masks during the pandemic.

The pair, ages 18 and 21, have been charged with attempted murder.

"This is just too random and quickly escalating. I can't fashion conditions that would protect the community," Cook County Judge Mary Marubio said on Tuesday as she ordered the accused held without bail.

But it's neither the first nor the last occurrence in a wave of mounting violence as the wearing of masks is continuously politicized.

A Florida man reportedly assaulted an Uber driver near Tampa, Florida, on Tuesday, punching him in the face after the driver asked him to put on a mask before entering his vehicle.

The alleged assailant was charged with aggravated assault of a person 65 years of age or older.

On Sept. 26, an 80-year-old man near Buffalo, New York, was shoved to the ground and hit his head after asking a fellow bar patron to put on a mask. He never regained consciousness, and died in early October.

The man who shoved him has pleaded not guilty to a charge of criminally negligent homicide.

These violent attacks have been occurring for months.

Back in May, two men were arrested and charged with felony premeditated murder in the shooting of a security guard at a Family Dollar store in Flint, Michigan, after the guard told the wife of one of the men to have her daughter put on a mask.

On July 29, a 54-year-old woman who had recently undergone a liver transplant was violently shoved to the ground and later hospitalized after she asked a fellow customer in a Staples store in Hackensack, New Jersey, to pull up her mask.

On July 31, a cigar store patron in Bethlehem Township, Pennsylvania, who was asked to put on a mask fired a weapon at an employee. The man was later arrested after a gun battle with police and faces two separate trials on multiple charges of attempted homicide and assault of a law enforcement officer.

On Aug. 12, a passenger on an American Airlines flight hit a gate agent in Phoenix, Arizona, who wouldn't allow her to board her connecting flight when she wouldn't wear a mask on her first flight.

Three days earlier, a teenage employee of a Philadelphia Sesame Place theme park was punched in the face by patrons when he asked them to put on their masks. He suffered the loss of a tooth and required double jaw surgery, according to the Washington Post.

These incidents have occurred amid persistent scorn from the White House for mask-wearing since the beginning of the pandemic.

Donald Trump has repeatedly scoffed at people who wear masks and denied their efficacy at preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

On April 3, Trump said wearing masks was "voluntary": "You don't have to do it. They suggested for a period of time, but this is voluntary. I don't think I'm going to be doing it."

"I don't know, somehow I don't see it for myself," he said. "Maybe I'll change my mind, but this will pass, and hopefully it will pass very quickly."

In July, he told Chris Wallace in a Fox News interview: "I don't agree with the statement that if everybody would wear a mask, everything disappears."

In August, he said he would never mandate mask-wearing because "Americans must have their freedoms." He added: "Maybe they're great, and maybe they're just good. Maybe they're not so good."

At the first presidential debate, Trump openly mocked opponent Joe Biden's mask-wearing.

"When needed, I wear masks. I don't wear masks like him," Trump said. "Every time you see him he's got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away and he shows up with the biggest mask I have ever seen."

On Oct. 18, Twitter removed a tweet from Dr. Scott Atlas, a Trump medical adviser, for making false claims that masks don't work.

"Masks work? NO," the now-deleted tweet read. "LA, Miami, Hawaii, Alabama, France, Phlippnes, UK, Spain, Israel. WHO:'widesprd use not supported' + many harms; Heneghan/Oxf CEBM:'despite decades, considerble uncertainty re value'; CDC rvw May:'no sig red'n in inflnz transm'n'; learn why."

And just Wednesday at a rally in Arizona where few masks and little social distancing were to be seen, Trump again spun lies about masks.

"In California, you have to have a special mask," the White House occupant falsely claimed. "You cannot, under any circumstances, take it off. You have to eat through the mask."

He went on to say that California's masks were a "complex mechanism."

"And they don't realize, those germs, they go through it like nothing. They look at you with that contraption and they say, 'That's an easy one,'" Trump said.

Scientists and medical professionals have repeatedly explained that the most protective function of masks is reducing the spread to other people of virus-containing water droplets released when speaking, breathing, coughing, or sneezing.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.