A counter-protester was arrested at a No Mask Nevada rally on Saturday after a nudge match between him and anti-mask protesters.
The anti-mask protest, the seventh of its kind organized by the No Mask Nevada PAC, drew nearly 200 people to Sunset Park. The man, who wore a pink sign that read “Honk if you are illiterate,” was arrested around 11:20 am on suspicion of the battery and challenged or engaged in a fight, Lt. Ken Nogle of the Metropolitan Police Department.
Several protesters followed and yelled at the man as he walked in front of the protesters, although some in the group urged everyone to be peaceful. At some point the man’s pink shield was torn open.
It was unclear who started pushing first, but after the confrontation, at least eight officers surrounded the man when he was arrested. According to Nogle, officers were investigating what had led to the pushing and no one else had been arrested by Saturday noon.
Melissa Blundo, chairwoman of the No Mask Nevada PAC, said the movement arguing that Governor Steve Sisolak’s mask mandate is unconstitutional is gaining traction.
Blundo has previously said the group only wants to focus on masks, rather than political issues or debates related to the pandemic, despite other protesters wearing signs endorsing President Donald Trump and supporting conspiracy theories about coronavirus.
“It’s a first change speech, so I don’t control what everyone brings to the rally,” she said on Saturday.
Sascha Alexander, another counter-protester, stood briefly over the intersection with a black face covering and held a sign that read “Wear a mask”. He said anti-mask supporters should know that “masks work” and encourage others to wear them.
“I was yelled at by people calling me,” Alexander said when a woman nearby with a sign that said “Medical Tyranny” who refused to give her name yelled at him.
About five men at the protest were seen wearing the black, yellow-trimmed polo shirts that the Washington Post reported are favored by the Proud Boys, a group many white supremacist and anti-Semitic groups, according to the Anti Defamation League Has members. A sign read: “Kyle Rittenhouse did nothing wrong”. He was referring to a 17-year-old Antioch, Illinois resident who was accused of killing two people over the police shooting of Jacob Blake during a protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Another man was holding a sign that read “Boogaloo 2020” and was wearing a Hawaiian shirt that indicated the decentralized anti-government Boogaloo movement. Three suspected members of the boogaloo movement were arrested in late May after allegedly trying to incite violence during anti-racism protests in Las Vegas.
The No Mask Nevada group this week claimed police tried to stop them from waving flags. The debate actually came from last week’s rally when officials told organizers that large poles are banned from protests by Clark County bylaw.
Blundo said Saturday that no metro official had spoken to her about masts the protesters were carrying, many of which were similar or identical to the tall masts seen in previous demonstrations.
She said the group plans to hold protests about once a week.
“We’ll keep going until the mask mandate is gone,” she said.
As of Saturday, the Department of Health and Human Services has reported 68,461 cases of the coronavirus across Nevada and 1,302 deaths.
Contact Katelyn Newberg at [email protected] or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.