‘Horrifically racist’ backlash prompts OR county to drop non-white mask policy

Grant Boone
June 26, 2020

The Lincoln Country Board of Commissioners initially passed the policy on June 17 that gave leeway to those concerned about "racial profiling and harassment due to wearing face coverings in public".

'No person shall intimidate or harass people who don't comply.

The move was effectively a strong message meant to educate the public on the effectiveness of face coverings in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and promote their use - it was not a legal mandate, and in fact included language specifying that there would be no formal enforcement.

Starting Wednesday, residents in seven Oregon counties, including Lincoln, are required to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces under Gov. Kate Brown's mandate, The Oregonian reported.

The mask policy mandates residents to wear face coverings while in any indoor public setting and outdoor setting where physical distancings can not be maintained.

A county in OR has exempted people of color from the mandatory wearing of face masks.

The new directive came as cases - which continue to be lower in the region - have been inching up in recent weeks.

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Meanwhile, the United States has recorded 2.43 million confirmed COVID-19 cases with President Donald Trump drawing severe criticism his handling of the pandemic.

The revised policy still includes exceptions for children under age 12, as well as people with medical conditions or disabilities that make wearing face covering hard or inadvisable.

Mandatory wearing of face masks, though beneficial in terms of containing the spread of cOVID-19, has been a point of contention among people of colour living in the United States, especially African Americans who feel facial masks and coverings, especially those made at home, increase the "presumed criminality" of persons of colour, especially black males.

"For many Black people, deciding whether or not to wear a bandanna in public to protect themselves and others from contracting coronavirus is a lose-lose situation that can result in life-threatening consequences either way", ReNika Moore, director of the ACLU's Racial Justice Program, said on CNN.

'And then we have the advice to go out in public places in something which... can certainly be read as being criminal or nefarious, particularly when applied to black men'.

Trevor Logan, a Black economics professor at Ohio State University, spoke with the outlet, saying, "This [wearing a mask] seems like a reasonable response unless you just sort of take American society out of it".

Protests have been sweeping across America calling for an end to systemic racism following Floyd's death in Minneapolis and a string of other shocking cases of black men and women being killed by police officers.

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