Councilwoman Lisa Clancy of the St. Louis County Council was breastfeeding her 8-week-old son while she virtually attended a meeting on Tuesday night as a series of unreasoning anti-maskers some call “spreadnecks” offered public comment against a renewed mask mandate she is proposing despite the madness.
“Pretty much, you see me moving my screen angle up and you just see the top of my head, that means I’m nursing,” she later told The Daily Beast.
Clancy’s other son is 5 years old and attends a preschool where two youngsters have tested positive for COVID-19 this past month even though masks are mandatory and all the staff are vaccinated. She is aware that 20 children in the county under 18 are hospitalized with the virus, seven of them under 12.
“Some are in the ICU,” Clancy said.
So, as the mother of two unvaccinated kids in a hot zone as well as a former social worker who went into politics with the same goal of “social justice and taking care of each other,” Clancy strongly supported the mask mandate that St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page imposed via an executive order on July 26.
The County Council chair, Rita Heard Days, was unhappy with Page’s doctor-knows-best approach and felt he should have first come to the council with the factual basis for his order. Councilman Tim Fitch, a former county police chief avowedly opposed to pandemic-related mandates of any kind, moved to repeal Page’s order.
The matter was scheduled for a vote on July 27, and it drew hundreds of anti-maskers. Police officers at the building entrance asked everyone to don a face covering, but the sign at the entrance to the council chamber said they were requested, not required. Almost nobody in the overflow crowd was wearing a mask as St. Louis County Health Director Dr. Faisal Khan sought to summarize for the council the information that Days felt they should have been given in detail prior to Page’s order.
Khan, who has been a U.S citizen since 2015, would later say that he detected a “dog whistle” of xenophobia when Fitch began by asking him if he was licensed to practice medicine in America. Khan would also suggest that Fitch is friends with Mark McCloskey, the lawyer who was arrested along with his wife for brandishing guns at Black Lives Matter protesters in June 2020. McCloskey had since been pardoned by former President Donald Trump and was running for U.S. Senate. He sat in the front row at the meeting, directly behind Khan.
A check of Twitter indicates that Khan was correct when he later reported that McCloskey was tweeting “Masks are simply un-American.” But McCloskey insisted that he had never met Fitch.
And a check of surveillance video and TV news footage does not support Khan’s contention that he was shoved and subjected to racist verbal abuse as he left the raucous meeting. Khan’s version, as he spelled out in a letter to Days, was further called into doubt by testimony at a hearing on Monday by police officers who were at the scene on July 27. Days is Black and is no stranger to actual racism and feels that the contradictions in Khan’s account raise an issue that is also central to the mask controversy.
“Trust,” she told The Daily Beast.
The question of how a mandate was going to be enforced further led Days to vote in favor of the repeal. She was joined by two other council members who seemed to have the same concerns. Fitch and Councilman Ernie Trakas are on record vowing never to support a “forced mandate.”
Page’s order was repealed by a vote of 5 to 2. It was also challenged by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, who went to court and secured a temporary restraining order on the grounds it violates state law.
But Clancy was not about to give. She drew up a bill for a new mask mandate, this one to be imposed by the council. The issue was to be opened up for public comment at Tuesday’s meeting.
In the meantime, the St. Louis city health department posted a notice that somebody within its jurisdiction tested positive after attending the county council’s meeting on July 27. The city health officials asked anyone who attended that meeting to quarantine for nine days.
But Days says she was never notified by county health officials. She told The Daily Beast that was why she went ahead and attended Monday’s hearing on the incident involving the chief county health official, Khan. So did two other council members. They did all wear masks.
Among those who ignored the quarantine and went barefaced was McCloskey, who stepped up to the podium and challenged Khan’s version of the meeting.
Clancy attended virtually. She began her remarks by noting that a mask mandate had been in effect when the council met on July 27 to vote on repealing it.
“I was very concerned last week when our meeting opened and it appeared that there was no enforcement of the mask mandate,” she said. “I am curious from my colleagues if it was their position that the mask mandate was in effect before you voted to rescind it. The very fact that you voted to rescind it implies to me that you do believe that there was a mask mandate. So my question is did this body flagrantly violate a public health order? And how does violating public health orders show respect to each other, to our staff, and to the public?”
She continued, “Further, you are each aware that there is a recommendation from the city of St. Louis health department that everyone who was at the meeting last week needs to quarantine for nine days… And again, by flagrantly violating the recommendations of public health officials during a pandemic, how does that show a level of respect to each other, our staff, and members of the public?”
On Tuesday, Days and the other two council members were back in the chamber despite the quarantine. The chamber saw a smaller but maybe even nuttier contingent of anti-maskers. Clancy appeared virtually one more time, her baby in her lap, her screen up in the nursing position as a series of speakers offered more lunacy.
The first up to the podium said, “I am addressing the MRNA gene therapy bio-weapon, mistakenly called a vaccine… Any coercion or pressure tactics used on employees to be vaccinated contravene the Nuremberg code, the Helsinki declaration, and the U.S. Crimes Against Humanity Act.”
Another said, “I hope the filthy tyranny that’s all over your hands is smeared all over your children.”
One asked, “Do we want to be forced to wear masks? Do we want to be forced to take pharmaceutical products of your choosing? Or do we just want to be left in peace? To do what we feel is best for ourselves?”
Another ended her statement by dramatically quoting Patrick Henry: “Give me liberty or give me death!”
Another said, “I think we live in the time of one of the biggest psy-ops experiments we’ve ever seen.”
A woman then stepped up to the podium wearing a black “Spirit of 1776” sweatshirt, a toddler propped on her hip.
“Please raise your hands if you’re a parent,” she said.
Clancy could be seen on the screen raising her hand along with many of those in the chamber.
“The government has a repulsive history of using its citizens as test subjects, and children have often been the discarded raw material of medical research,” the woman then said.
She cited a host of fictitious experiments in which the CDC supposedly killed or crippled children by the thousands.
“The government sprayed radium-226 radiation on neighborhoods right here in St. Louis for over 10 years,” she continued.
She also said, “The FDA has approved hundreds of medicines as safe over the years, which were later recalled, or pulled from the market after being found to be harmful to human life. Time after time, the government has utterly disregarded the sanctity of human life. Now, imagine you had concerns about subjecting your children or yourself to any one of those government experiments that were later identified as unsafe and deadly. You would have been called crazy, a conspiracy theorist… possibly committed.”
She went on, “With different responses to biological stimuli, imagine knowing that what might be fine for one person may actually kill your child, which is why health decisions are innately personal… This is why our Founding Fathers granted the government limited rights and upheld the rights of the individual as most important. This is why public service’s chief responsibility is protecting the people’s individual rights. You are not our rulers or parents or dictators. Do not perpetuate the government’s ownership and servitude of the people…”
She concluded, “Let the people make their own decisions about mask vaccines, and all personal health decisions.”
Clancy lifted her baby up onto her shoulder and lightly patted his back, burping him. The woman in the Spirit of 1776 sweatshirt coached her son to utter a closing line. He had to repeat it twice to get it right: “I decide what happens to my body.”
The anti-maskers cheered and applauded. Clancy lowered her baby. She later told The Daily Beast that the COVID-19 outbreak has her worried for both her children. She is sometimes also concerned about what her 5-year-old overhears of these meetings.
“I don’t want him growing up thinking that’s an acceptable way to talk about each other,” Clancy said.
YouTube had its own concerns. It later took down a video of the meeting.
“This video has been removed for violating YouTube’s community guidelines,” a notice read.
The circuit judge who issued the temporary restraining order on the mandate has scheduled a hearing on the matter for Aug. 17. The county council is expected to vote on Clancy’s proposed mandate the week before. She will have a reason beyond COVID-19 for once again appearing virtually.
“I’m still on maternity leave,” she told The Daily Beast.