HUNTINGTON, Ind. (WANE) – On Nov. 24, Huntington issued strict restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus in the city, including possible fines, indoor capacity limits, and a ban on live entertainment. Now, some Huntington residents are protesting Saturday against the fines that come with the ordinance.
Around 50 people protested in front of the Huntington County Courthouse to oppose a recent city ordinance that gives police the ability to issue a fine people and businesses for violating the city’s mask mandate. The ordinance was passed last week after city leaders discussed what could be done to slow coronavirus spread in the community. Under the ordinance, officers can issue a written warning for a first offense or a $25 fine if the person is a repeat offender. However, Huntington Police tell WANE 15 that no fines have been written yet for the mask ordinance. That fine will increase by $50 dollars for each additional offense.
The organizer of the event, Clifford Coon, said the intent behind protest was not to show opposition to the mask mandate as much as it was about the police power to fine those who defy the mandate. However, many of the protesters said they did not believe they should be forced to wear a mask as well.
“I don’t know the repercussions of not paying the fine, I haven’t really looked into it that much and it just started so I can’t really comment to that,” said Lisa LeVar, who lives in Huntington County. “I don’t agree with it. It’s about taking our rights and our freedoms slowly but surely.”
“I really believe it’s a personal choice,” said Erin Harlan, who lives in Huntington County. “I’m not going to complain or yell at someone who has a mask on and I ask for the same respect back. I wonder where the line is, like if I have to have a mask on to protect you, do I also need to follow you around and smack junk food out of your hands? Or do I need to call you at six in the morning and make sure you get up and exercise? Where is the line between where my responsibility for your health is?
Huntington Mayor Richard Strick (R) also attended to answer questions from the crowd about the ordinance. Former Libertarian candidate for Indiana Governor Donald Rainwater also spoke at the event and after some back-and-forth with the mayor about the origins of the ordinance, he called for people to vote out Huntington’s City council members at the earliest opportunity.
As of Wednesday, Huntington is in the orange on the state department of health’s color-coded scale.
The department reports a weekly average of 594 cases per 100,000 people with a 7-day positivity rate of 10.9 percent.
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