DELAND, Fla. - Protesters with the group 'Freedom for Florida' gathered in downtown DeLand on Saturday afternoon. They were led by local lawyer R. Shawn McBride outside the Volusia County administration building.
“That's what we're here for, today. We're here to tell the government that we will stand for our rights,” McBride addressed the group.
Gathering without masks or any kind of social distancing, they called for an end to the city's mask ordinance, the lifting of any COVID-19 related restrictions, and what they called a "logic-based public health policy."
“We're not afraid to show what we believe in,” said Robyn Harrington Schmidt, a protester from DeLand, “despite the fact that we're often criticized by our own family and community members for our beliefs and patriotism and our love for the United States of America.”
After rallying in front of the city's historic courthouse, they marched through the streets chanting their message.
Some onlookers wearing masks watched with concern.
“It's not like people wearing masks are against anyone,” said Zachary Davis, who was watching the protest. "It's legit safety. We all have grandparents, older family members, younger family members. It's very important we keep them safe and ourselves safe. There's a ton of them out here, and they're spreading it like crazy, there's no doubt.”
Doctors say they realize the shutdowns hurt businesses. They say the sooner Americans follow the guidelines about masks and distancing, the sooner we could beat COVID-19.
“If you really walk around and say I'm not wearing a mask, you're being selfish,” said Orlando physician Dr. Matthew Knight, “it's not you that you're protecting, it's the other people around you if you were to have exposure to COVID-19. It's simple math, it's not hard to pencil.”