Mixed, vibrant reactions to city council meeting over masks in Broken Arrow

VIDEO: Broken Arrow business owner willing to enforce masks despite council's decision

BROKEN ARROW, Okla. — The outrage and responses to Broken Arrow’s consideration of a mask resolution inside Monday’s city council meeting could only be matched by the questions and reaction to the meeting on social media.

Broken Arrow city councilors voted 4-1 against passing the resolution -- which would have only recommended that masks be worn in public places.

MORE >>> Vote for mask resolution fails to pass at Broken Arrow City Council meeting

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Before the vote, citizens were allowed to voice their concerns.

The first person to speak, Michael Gillespie, husband to Broken Arrow City Councilor Christie Gillespie, said there’s “obviously” no science proving that mask orders work, echoing the position Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt has taken on a potential mandate for the state.

Nov. 23, 2020 - Citizens voice concerns over a proposed mask resolution in Broken Arrow.
Nov. 23, 2020 - Citizens voice concerns over a proposed mask resolution in Broken Arrow. (FOX23)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers recently looked at COVID-19 infection rates in Kansas following its statewide mask mandate, finding that counties that chose to enforce the mandate saw their coronavirus cases decrease.

Counties that “opted out” saw their cases continue to rise.

Councilor Gillespie said later in the meeting that “we are all going to believe the science we want to believe.”

Several more speakers spoke out against the research and findings of both the CDC and Tulsa Health Department, including a Tulsa man who said passing Tuesday’s resolution -- which only he encouraged the use of masks -- would have a “chilling effect” on the city’s economy.

One woman, Laura Burkett, claimed that masks were hurting those wearing them, citing a “Danish study” that public health experts have spoken out against.

Nov. 23, 2020 - Citizens voice concerns over a proposed mask resolution in Broken Arrow.
Nov. 23, 2020 - Citizens voice concerns over a proposed mask resolution in Broken Arrow. (FOX23)

There were a handful of speakers who were in favor of the resolution, one of those pointing out how its passing would not force anyone to do anything.

“This resolution isn’t a mandate. It’s not and it won’t be,” said It’s just encouraging people to wear masks.

Amid public comments, social media reactions opposed to many of the opinions poured in.

Emily Wright on Twitter called masks “the bare minimum,” saying she’d consider running for city council in a future election.

After public comment, councilors gave their thoughts. Longtime city councilor Johnnie Parks was shouted down by the crowd as he voiced his support in favor of the resolution.

Shouts of “we won’t do it” came from the crowd as Parks tried to finish his thoughts.

He was the only councilor to vote in favor of the resolution.

“Extremely saddened by this, and their lack of care for the community,” one person commented on the FOX23 Facebook page after the vote.

“Good. One less place for me to break the rules in,” another commenter said.