Protesters advocate for choice as mask mandate goes into effect in New Hanover Co.

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A mask mandate went into effect at 5 p.m. on Friday in New Hanover County and a group promptly showed up at the government building to protest the mandate.

Dozens showed up touting signs that said “we will not comply,” “unmask our children,” and more. The protesters who showed up before 5 p.m. went inside the government building, taking laps and chanting things like, “the constitution and bill of rights are still in effect” and “my body, my choice.”

Organizers and participants took turns addressing the crowd, all advocating for the right to choose and encouraging others to fight for their liberties and freedoms.

“There’s a lot of people out here that are upset, because they feel like our liberties are being stripped away. I’m one of them,” Libby Dunn said.

Many people like New Hanover County Republican Liberty Caucus Chair David Perry expressed frustration about the entity implementing the mask mandate, because they are not elected. The Health and Human Services Board is appointed.

“You have an un-elected health and human services board telling individual private businesses how to run their things and telling us what we have to do and possibly levying out lots of fines and we just don’t think it’s right,” Perry said.

The group called for a change in elected leaders, in county commission, city council, and the school board. Libby Dunn aims to make change herself by running for county commission.

“We completely respect people’s right to wear masks or to get the vaccine. We want everyone to do what makes the most sense for them and everyone to have freedom to make their own health choices like we do in every other aspect of our life,” Dunn said.

Perry added that he had been vaccinated, reiterating their message is about giving people the choice to make their own decisions.

“Our message to everybody out there in New Hanover County is just say no. Just refuse to do it,” Perry said. “Hey, if you want to wear a mask, that’s great, that’s for you. But if you don’t, don’t just get pressured into it. Don’t be a sheep.”

WWAY reached out to the New Hanover County Democratic Party for a response to the protest, but the party chair declined to comment.

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