Biden condemns Tenn. mask protests, calls school officials imposing mandates ‘heroes’

President Biden on Thursday condemned protesters who heckled those wearing masks at a meeting to reinstate a mask mandate for elementary school children in Tennessee.

“I know there are a lot of people out there trying to turn a public safety measure, children wearing masks in school so they can be safe, into a political dispute,” Mr. Biden said. “This isn’t about politics. This is about keeping our children safe.”

Mr. Biden veered away from a prepared speech on prescription drug prices to address the protests.

Angry protests erupted in Franklin, Tennessee on Tuesday after the Williamson County Board of Education reinstated its mask policy. Protesters yelled at and heckled those wearing masks as they walked into the meeting.

A video posted on Twitter showed a man screaming at a masked individual leaving their meeting.

“We know who are you,” the man shouted. “You’ll never be allowed in public again.”

“You can leave freely, but we will find you,” another man yelled.

Others chanted, “We will not comply.”

Speaking at the White House, Mr. Biden urged respect for local officials imposing mask policies across the country to combat the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. He criticized Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, over the issue.

“To mayors, school board members, superintendents, local leaders and educators across the country who are standing up to the governor’s politicizing mass protection for our kids, thank you,” Mr. Biden said. “Thank God that we have heroes like you, and I stand with you all, and America should as well.”


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