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USA TODAY

A week-old anti-mask protest in Utah has become the source of online setbacks after a TV news report describing the demonstration went viral on social media.

The protest, which drew hundreds to the Washington County School District building in St. George, was held on August 21 in opposition to a school mask mandate required throughout the state by Utah Gary Herbert.

A demonstrator at the march, according to The Spectrum, part of the U.S. TODAY Network, said during a closing prayer that “security is not as important as our freedom and liberty.”

“Forcing masks on our children is child abuse,” said the man identified as Eric Moutsos, later in the protest, The Spectrum reported.

Washington County School District Communications Director Steve Dunham expressed frustration with protesters, calling it “so dang selfish” that people would not wear a mask in an attempt to protect others.

According to several health authorities, face masks do not reduce oxygen intake, nor do they result in carbon dioxide poisoning, hypoxemia, or hypoxia.

The demonstration was organized by a conservative group known as the Liberty Action Coalition. It has no online presence other than a Facebook group started in July.

Although it took place weeks ago, the demonstration gained national attention after a news report from Salt Lake City television station KTVX-TV was shared on Twitter and TikTok this week.

The TV spot, posted on Twitter by Mediaite reporter Tommy Christopher, has since attracted more than 12 million views on the platform on Monday night.

Many of the reactions to the report criticized the protesters, calling them “justified” and “proudly hostile”, while others compared it to “a straight parody” that fits a “Saturday Night Live” sketch.

A protester compared the disguise to George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police on Memorial Day, an incident that sparked national protests against racial inequality and police brutality.

“When George Floyd said ‘I can not breathe,’ and then he died, and now we have a mask on, and we say ‘I can not breathe,’ but we are forced to wear it anyway,” said the resident Shauna Kinville to KTVX.

Another resident, Betty Jake, told KTVX that she hated masks because “most child abusers love them.”

Follow Joshua Bote and K. Sophie Will on Twitter: @joshua_bote and @ksophiewill

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