BOTHELL, Wash. — An unidentified woman who is seen on video struggling with an officer was arrested in a grocery store for criminal trespassing, not violating the statewide mask mandate, Bothell police said in response to a viral video which has drawn strong reactions on social media.
But the man who recorded and published the video claims the woman’s arrest was political and heavy-handed, because the woman claimed to have a medical exemption to the state mask mandate.
The video shows a woman--who had been participating in a rally protesting lockdown restrictions like the mask mandate--resisting being handcuffed while being arrested inside the PCC Community Market in Bothell on October 17.
“We have not arrested any person, at any time, for ‘not wearing a mask.’ The person in this video was being taken into custody for Criminal Trespassing,” a blotter post read.
Dustin Barnes of Everett, who recorded the confrontation, said the woman was singled out because she refused to wear a mask in the store because of a medical condition. “I don’t think the cops should be enforcing a store’s corporate policy on taxpayers dollars,” Barnes said.
Officers responded Oct. 17 to the PCC Community Market in the 22600 block of Bothell Everett Highway SE to investigate a report of a group of people allegedly harassing customers as they entered the store.
When Bothell police arrived, they found 60-70 people standing in front of the store holding signs that said “The Pandemic is a Fraud” and “Honk if you Question the Mask Mandate,” according to the post.
Police say employees reported that there were 10 people inside the store who refused face coverings after being asked to put one on, and being offered free masks
Barnes, who has a disability rating as a former Army Ranger which exempts him from the state mask rule, said he had not met the woman before, but agreed to accompany her inside the store to buy a bottle of water.
“Nobody from the store approached her,” Barnes said. “The first person to make contact with her was the police officer you see on the tape. I didn’t hear him read her rights, why she was being arrested, or what she was doing. All I heard him say was ‘stop resisting’ over and over again.”'
Bothell police say the woman in the video went back into the store after being asked to leave and refused a face mask. The officer told the group that if they remained after the warnings, they may be arrested and charged with trespassing, according to the police statement.
The woman struggled to avoid being taken into custody for two minutes, according to police. Eventually, she was put in handcuffs and taken to the Bothell police department, where she was released a short time later. Charges were referred to the prosecutor’s office.
Barnes said he didn’t intend to become an activist, but he believes the state order--which is very broadly written, gives people the right to shop for necessities without wearing a mask.
According to the mandate, it exempts people “With medical conditions, mental health conditions, or a disability that prevents wearing a face covering.”
“We live in a time when people are tossing tables and yelling slogans and stuff because they want to get their political points across, and they’re not getting arrested,” Barnes said. “But a woman buying a bottle of water without a mask is?”
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