A video showing a maskless man being dragged out of a school board meeting in upstate New York has been widely shared online as the state’s governor prepares to reassess her classroom mask requirement.
The video shows security guards grabbing and forcibly removing local parent, Dave Calus, from the Webster School Board meeting on Tuesday. Posted on Facebook by the ROC for Educational Freedom Public Page, the video has been shared over a thousand times, sparking renewed outrage over COVID-19 school measures as New York Governor Kathy Hochul said Wednesday that she’ll re-evaluate the masking requirement in early March.
The Webster Police Department posted a statement to Twitter Wednesday, saying its officers weren’t directly involved in the altercation, but that school resource officers helped de-escalate it. School security is investigating the incident and police will determine whether to bring charges, police said.
Located outside the city of Rochester, the Webster Central School District serves about 8,100 students, according to its website. Newsweek has reached out to the district for comment.
According to a statement the district issued to local TV station WHEC, an unnamed individual was physically removed from the school board meeting after refusing three times to put on a mask as mandated by the state.
“We strive to hold board of education meetings in public in order to inform the community of activities going on in our schools,” the district’s statement said. “Those meetings can only occur when everyone in attendance acts in a civil manner. We understand that individuals have strong feelings about masking.”
Calus could not be reached by Newsweek for comment Thursday evening.
Calus spoke out on Kimberly’s Revolution podcast, with the tag line “Webster, Where Life is Worth Getting Assaulted.” The father of three with the youngest still in school, said that he didn’t set out to make trouble and had intended to speak to the board against the school’s mandates, which he said are affecting kids in “mental and emotional ways.”
“My intent was to go and speak on behalf of my son, who’s the last child I have in the district,” he said. “And express my concerns about the consistent, continuing, mask mandates that are not necessary for these children. They are not in a risk group. Diseases are not being spread at school.”
Calus gave the following account of events on the podcast: When he showed up to the meeting and signed in, he was asked to put on a mask. He said, “thank you,” and put the mask handed to him in his pocket. Those who refused to wear masks were being directed to a classroom with a video monitor showing the meeting, but Calus refused to sit there and instead sat in the main room.
Again, Calus was told he needed to wear a mask and was handed one. Again, he said, “thank you,” and put it in his pocket. After sitting there for about 15 to 20 minutes maskless, security approached him and told him to put on a mask. He again replied with a “thank you.” After refusing to put on a mask, the security guard tried to pull the chair out from underneath him and yanked his jacket off. Other guards helped take him out of the room.
Police intervened, and Calus said he waited around for a half hour to find out if he could stay. He realized he had sustained an injury and went to urgent care. By the time he got out, he said, the video had gone viral.
Calus said on the podcast he’s concerned the mask mandates will lead to vaccine mandates, which he opposes.
“I will not allow the state to think that they control my son’s body,” he said. “They don’t get to choose what they inject in his body. That’s his mom’s decision and my decision. That’s why I was there last night.”