Grace Smith, a junior at Laramie High School in Wyoming, has been involved with a legal battle with her high school over its mask mandate this week, and the district responded this week by locking down the entire school for an hour and a half while cuffing and arresting her.
According to KPVI-TV, Smith said she believes that the Wyoming State Constitution protects her right to make her own medical decisions, and thus prohibits mask mandates. The Laramie County School District, however, put into place a mask mandate in September in response to growing numbers of COVID-19 cases.
Smith's father claims that he and his daughter attempted to speak with numerous statewide officials about their concerns with the legality of the mask mandate, but were told that the only way to challenge it involved going to court, which would involve Smith risking disciplinary action.
So Smith began going to school without a mask in defiance of the mandate. The first time she was suspended, she told KPVI, "she just left," but then the second time she says her attorney advised her to stay on campus in order to ensure that she received a citation that could be challenged in court. So on Tuesday, she was suspended a second time and also issued a citation for trespassing.
When Smith returned to school on Thursday, again without a mask, she decided this time that she would not leave voluntarily. So Laramie police officers showed up and handcuffed and arrested her. Cellphone video of the arrest taken by one of Smith's friends shows that Smith was firm, but polite and respectful with the officers as she was arrested and led from the building.
While Smith told KPVI that she expected to be cited again for trespass and possibly arrested, she admitted that she was surprised that the incident resulted in a schoolwide lockdown. School officials confirmed the lockdown to KPVI, and further admitted that "the lockdown wasn't done because of any specific threat of violence or potential for harm."
Rather, bizarrely, school officials claimed that locking down the entire school was necessary "to prevent further interruptions to academic learning," which might have perhaps been better accomplished by not locking down the entire school, since the video clearly shows that the arrest in question was neither noisy nor disruptive to the school at large.
When asked why she is so insistent about refusing to wear a mask, Smith told KPVI, "It's because I'm growing up in a country where I'm supposed to have my God-given rights to protect, and they're being taken away. Everybody has the freedom to wear a mask if they choose, but I believe everybody also has the right to not wear a mask if they choose."
Smith also insisted that the decision to refuse to wear a mask was her choice, and was not influenced by her parents.
Smith also noted that since she began her protest, she has been "cussed out a lot" by her fellow students, and even faced retaliation from teachers. KPVI also notes that Smith faces possible expulsion from the school if the suspensions continue.
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