Maskless mass at Wisconsin State Capitol fires backlash

The group came to the Capitol to back a mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations.
Published: Mar. 3, 2021 at 11:40 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -A photo provided by Sen. Melissa Agard (D-Madison) shows dozens of people shoulder to shoulder and maskless, while watching a public hearing at the Wisconsin State Capitol on Wednesday.

Community members turned out in support of a pair bills to ban mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations in Wisconsin. The crowd gathered for the public hearing, but the group was too large so they were moved to an overflow room.

People listen to hearing in Wisconsin State Capitol overflow room on Wednesday.
People listen to hearing in Wisconsin State Capitol overflow room on Wednesday.(Sen. Melissa Agard)

“It was really startling for me to see in the state Capitol building, so many people that weren’t wearing masks that weren’t socially distancing,” Sen. Agard said. “They weren’t taking into consideration any safety procedures for themselves, or for the people that work in the Capitol building.”

Sen. Agard said she took the picture Wednesday morning around 11 a.m.

“I was needing to navigate the Capitol building and came across a number of people multiple times that were not wearing masks or social distancing,” she said. “We have historically cared for one another and simply wearing a mask -- it is the mandate. These people by law are to be wearing masks.”

Jessica Gilbert listened to the hearing in the overflow room (in the photo provided).

“I think they should have a choice so I’m not worried going in there without people wearing masks,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert is a member of the Wisconsin United for Freedom Organization.

“I choose, and a lot of people here as well choose to do it different where they protect themselves by strengthening their immune system,” she said.

Erin Runk, who is also a Wisconsin United for Freedom Organization member, said their organization stands for everyone’s right to choose.

“We’re just thankful to be in this great state Capitol and have a choice to wear a mask or not and to be a body of our own health,” Runk said.

Wisconsin is still under a statewide mask mandate.

NBC15 reached out to the Department of Administration asking if anyone is responsible to enforce the mask mandate at the State Capitol. We are waiting for a response.

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