City of Moscow warns of threats, anti-mask protests and possible violence
MOSCOW, Idaho — You may remember video of police arresting people outside of Moscow City Hall during a ‘psalm sing’ prayer event.
Nearly 200 people were in attendance and no one was wearing a mask, but this was not the last large gathering in Moscow—it was just the beginning.
Events have escalated since then in North Idaho, enough to the point that the Mayor of Moscow is issuing a warning, saying he believes more protests and coming and they could lead to violence.
Since July, Moscow has had a city ordinance in place, requiring everyone to wear a mask and stay six feet apart in public.
This requirement has not been well received by everyone.
Last Wednesday, Christ Church organized a psalm sing outside City Hall. Moscow Police arrested three people and cited five for breaking the rules.
“We would’ve loved to prefer just to issue citations and be done,” said Moscow Police Chief, James Fry. “But when you don’t identify yourself, it does kind of put us in a different mindset. And a different… ‘what are we going to do now?'”
Now, the City is even more concerned.
Moscow Mayor Bill Lambert says the City received threats following those arrests, issuing the following statement:
“These threats from various groups indicate they are going to come to our city to protest in a manner that may escalate to violence. These groups are from other parts of the country and are threatening to bring in a large number of protesters to our community, which would serve to increase the risk of COVID-19 infection in our area.”
“This is a tough time now for our community… on both sides—those who believe in masks and those who don’t believe in masks,” said Fry. “We are stuck in the middle of that, to enforce and protect.”
A woman named Ella captured video from the scene of another anti-mask protest on Saturday, where you can see a group of people gathered outside the Police Department without masks.
What began as a verbal disagreement soon turned physical; the City worries they will be seeing more of this.
On Friday, Idaho Governor Brad Little issued a statement addressing religious groups—he said Idaho Legislature put into law the authority of local governments to create and enforce mask mandates years ago.
Governor Little said his emergency order does not give local governments the authority to create and enforce mask mandates—that was already established by the legislature, and the governments have that authority with or without an emergency order.
4 News Now reached out to Christ Church, the group organizing psalm sings in Moscow. They say they fully intend to hold more religious gatherings.
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