As if casting out demons, dozens of people tossed pricey KN95 face masks into a fire pit Friday in Mission Bay Park.
The coverings were depicted as “tools of terror” being used to “turn neighbor against neighbor.” They were a “precursor to adult mandatory vaccination” and “getting everybody angry.”
Said one older man, wearing a “MAGA FIGHT CLUB” shirt: “I’m ready to die for this mission” but: “First of all, we need to get Trump re-elected.”
The discarded five-layer masks — fresh from their cellophane packaging — carried their own defiant messages into the Ski Beach flames at an event labeled “Burn Your Mask Bonfire.”
Examples included: “This mask is as useless as Gavin Newsom,” “Lies by the mainstream media” and “Nice try, Satan.”
A woman with a young girl tossed many masks. One was labeled: “This mask does not protect you or me.” Another said: “Jesus and only Jesus can save.”
As two officers watched from a San Diego police vehicle, the event organized by Amber Lynn Gilles of Starbucks mask-refusal fame could be mistaken for any other beach gathering. (But no marshmallows were roasted. In fact, no refreshments were served at the two-hour rally.)
A handful of critical observers wore masks but didn’t get into the faces of the three dozen responding to Gilles’ summons on Facebook. One man labeled the group “batshit crazy” and rode away on his bike saying “people are dying.”
The event began about 40 minutes late — with an entertainer unable to activate a small gasoline generator. It was meant to provide electricity for amplifiers.
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So the barefoot Gilles went to Plan B, moving featured speakers to the fire pit instead of a grassy overlook.
Most passionate was Genevieve Peters, whose 22-minute May 7 video of being kicked out of a Rancho Palos Verdes Trader Joe’s has 144,000 views (and many more on other channels).
“For millions of years, we have had viruses. … We have had bacteria. And all sorts of … microorganisms,” she said, searching for the right pronunciation. When they are infectious, she declared, “God gave us our immune system.”
She touted hydroxychloroquine as a way to prevent COVID-19 and urged the crowd to watch “America’s Frontline Doctors,” the viral video that health experts have denounced as dangerous.
Peters insisted that countries using hydroxychloroquine to treat malaria can boast of only one or two deaths per million. But that belief, promoted by President Trump, has been debunked. (Few people in malaria-prone countries are even taking such drugs, said factcheck.org.)
She likened Americans obeying mask rules to Jews following Nazi edicts amid the Holocaust.
“When people (say) I’m not being kind and … thoughtful — I might as well get on that train in Germany as well,” she said before leading a chant of “Do not comply, do not comply.”
Peters was followed by Joshua Coleman, who contends his 6-year-old son Otto was partially paralyzed after receiving vaccinations when he was 17 months old.
Coleman’s overriding concern was that “adult mandatory vaccination is coming.”
Next was Orange County’s Carmen Estel, whose website calls her “a Holy Fire Reiki Master Practitioner” who channels healing methods from Jesus and angels.
Estel was adamant: “You cannot be living in faith if you’re living in fear” of the virus. “I am not dying in my time. I am dying in God’s time. … If God wants me to die of the virus, I will die of the virus.”
She said darkness can exist only in the absence of light.
“So when it comes to [Gov. Gavin] Newsom, all we have to do is keep shining a light on that dark mother-effer,” she said, pausing before the near-vulgarity.
Estel said nobody sees anyone dying of COVID. She seemed to backtrack a moment later.
“Everybody is clued in now. This isn’t really happening,” she said at sunset. “The hospitals are empty. Nurses are furloughed. Have you all noticed this?”
Three rappers, including an apparently married couple, performed for 10 minutes, followed by Estel handing the brand-new face masks out of a box, offering marker pens to inscribe notes before the roasting.
A prayer ended the event just before 8:30 p.m. Everyone held hands.