In Illinois, assaulting a worker for enforcing masks is now a felony: 'Frontline workers must be protected'

The governor said that the assault of a worker 'conveying public health guidance' can now be prosecuted as aggravated battery


                            In Illinois, assaulting a worker for enforcing masks is now a felony: 'Frontline workers must be protected'
(Getty Images)

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker passed a law last week penalizing anyone who assaults an employee enforcing the use of masks and face coverings to curb the spread of coronavirus. The governor said that the assault of a worker who's "conveying public health guidance," under the new law, can now be prosecuted as aggravated battery, a felony in the state. The law went into effect immediately.

The governor's office, in a statement, said: "This provision sends the message that it's vitally important for workers to be both respected and protected while serving on the frontlines."

The law comes into effect at a time when multiple reports have emerged across the country of disputes over masks turning violent. Earlier this month, a woman in New Jersey assaulted another customer at a Staples store who asked her to wear her mask over her nose and mouth. In another similar incident, a man from Pennsylvania shot at a cigar shop employee who had reportedly asked him to wear a mask. In yet another violent incident that took place in May, security footage at a Target in Los Angeles showed a man shopping there breaking the arm of an employee in an argument over wearing face masks.

Just days before the law was passed in Illinois, a video of an unidentified woman at a King Kullen supermarket in Massapequa, New York went viral. The woman, in the clip, was seen yelling at a female employee who was not in the frame. It was reported that the employee had asked the customer to wear a face-covering in the store. The woman, who was not wearing a face mask, however, insisted that she had a covering on earlier and warned that she would beat up the employee for acting like a "communist."

The customer then reportedly began commenting on the store worker's weight. “Are you kidding me?” the staff said. “We live in America. Don't give me this communist crap,” the customer responded while shouting. “Seriously? Because I asked you to put your mask on?” the worker, who can’t be seen in the video, retorted. “My mask was on!” the woman said. “It wasn't on!” the employee replied.

“My mask was on!” the woman continued the argument. “Shut the f*** up, you fat b****. You're a fat f***. That's why you work in a supermarket. That's why you work in a supermarket, you dumb f***.” “Don't pull your communist bullshit on me. I'll fucking beat the s*** out of you right here in the f******–,” she added as the video ended. While the date of the incident is not known, it appeared on social media on Saturday night, August 8.

Last month, amid rising reports of racially discriminatory 911 calls being made targeting Black people across the country, the 'CAREN Act', or the Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies Act, was introduced by a San Francisco official on July 7. The particular Act has been introduced as an ordinance and seeks to impose fines on anyone making false and discriminatory emergency reports in the region.

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