A group of right-leaning Christians gathered in Moscow, Idaho, once again to protest the city’s mask mandate. This time, there were no arrests.
Just a few days after three peaceful protesters — including Latah County commission candidate Gabe Rench — were arrested during a “Psalm sing” in the city hall parking lot, a group of roughly 400 mostly unmasked Christ Church members held a second demonstration, according to the Moscow-Pullman Daily News.
Five protesters were cited for violating the city’s mask mandate and social distancing orders during the first event. While there were five police officers in the area during the second “Psalm sing” Friday, none were at the protest and no arrests or citations were issued.
The parking lot was split down the middle, with anti-mask singers on the east side and about 40 masked, socially distanced counter-protesters gathered on the west end. Brian Bedard, a masonry contractor from nearby Lewiston, stood in the middle with a 10-foot-tall wooden cross.
“It’s about Christ, and that’s why I’m here,” he told the Daily News.
The equally peaceful counter-protesters held signs that read, “Love your neighbor, wear a mask,” and, “Keep schools open, wear a mask.” Another person, it should be noted, held a sign that read, “I like tacos.”
As the anti-mask group sang hymns, roughly eight counter-protesters reportedly banged on drums and cymbals. Rench said their efforts showed “the contrast between pretty music and what godlessness looks like.”
“Godlessness is ugly,” he told the newspaper. “It doesn’t produce pretty noise. And it was actually kind of a funny contrast between what was going on between our beautiful singing and their ugly protest.”
Sean Bohnet, a member of Christ Church who opposes the city’s mask mandate, told the Daily News he sees the order as “tyrannical.” He also said he didn’t think the drumming was very “classy.”
When he was first arrested, Rench told the police officers who cuffed him and escorted him away from the premises, “You guys should not be doing this. … Doing this kind of crap for the mayor, this is embarrassing.”
“You guys are stronger than this,” he added.
Though Rench was arrested, he was released soon thereafter and faced no charges.