Sheriff’s department investigators are looking into what happened in the moments leading up to a confrontation involving a man in a “Your mask makes you look stupid” shirt who shouted profanities during an anti-mask outburst in a Southern California parking lot.
"Stay scared! Keep your masks on, that don't even work!" the unidentified man can be heard yelling in a video taken last Thursday in the community northeast of Los Angeles.
"Look at this grown man with a mask on," he continues, gesturing towards the man behind the camera. "What a frickin' coward!"
That video, and the man whose rant it captured, are now the subject of an investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, after witnesses say the angry man was harassing children in a shopping center parking lot near a La Crescenta middle school.
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The LASD says it is attempting to find out what led up to the incident caught on video. Witnesses said the man appeared to be verbally abusing middle schoolers for their decision to wear a mask to protect themselves against COVID-19.
Another adult stepped in to record the end of the confrontation, and investigators are now attempting to identify the shouting man, who can be seen in the video wearing shorts and a t-shirt that says "Your mask makes you look stupid."
The cameraman, who did not want to be identified beyond his first name, Ned, says he tried to intervene after he saw the small crowd being yelled at.
"I discovered there are kids," Ned said. "I saw adults stare, they didn't particularly do anything. And he just kept going, and he kept getting closer to them."
Ned believes the man in the t-shirt targeted mask-wearing students leaving Rosemont Middle School. Then, the anti-mask man turned on him.
"Look at this grown man with a mask on!" he says in the video, following up the statement by calling Ned an expletive, and an idiot.
"My kids are forced to wear a f---ing mask, so f--- you!" the man says to Ned in the video, before falsely claiming that masks "don't work" to lower the odds of getting COVID and calling them "f---ing child abuse."
According to the CDC, "masks are made to contain droplets and particles you breathe, cough, or sneeze out," while respirators like N95 or KN95 masks can "protect you by filtering the air and fitting closely on the face to filter out particles, including the virus that causes COVID-19."
As long as masks are worn consistently and correctly, masks and respirators are effective at reducing transmission of COVID.
The LASD confirms the ranting man drove off before deputies arrived at the scene.
"Anybody that has a First Amendment right, that doesn't agree with something that's going on in this country can do what they want," said acting captain Robert Hahnlein, from the LASD Crescenta Valley office. "But we are going to look at this as a criminal matter, and see if there's any violations to that."
Parents, whose children were not involved, say the kids who were there have rights, too.
"Why didn't the sheriff's department take an incident report, put it on record, and treat these children as the victims they are?" said Emily Lanigan.
"This was an adult, on minors," said Elia Silveyra, who works as a social worker. "I protect minors on a daily basis, at my job. And this is not the way it was done, towards them."
Ned, who shared the video on NextDoor, hopes the angry man calms down.
"I respect his freedom for not wanting to wear a mask, I can see that point," he said. "But these kids have a freedom to wear a mask, if they think it protects them."
The LASD is also in touch with Glendale city and Glendale School police, who are investigating the same man for similar outbursts.