PLYMOUTH — A Campton man is part of a group of people planning to demonstrate against a proposed face mask ordinance, calling it an infringement of his rights.
David Lheureux, one of two organizers of the protest, said he and others will demonstrate at the Town Common on Sunday, from noon to 7 p.m. or until dark.
“Anybody can show up, with any opinion, and people are free to do as they wish. If they want to mask, if they don’t want to mask, we like to hear people’s opinions. If they want to talk, we’re very open to discussing this as a community,” Lheureux said.
The demonstration is in reaction to a public hearing that the selectboard has scheduled as part of its meeting on Monday, July 27. The hearing will be a means for the board to accept public comment about a proposed ordinance that would require cloth face coverings to be worn by employees when interacting with the public and whenever they are within six feet of another person; by members of the public entering any business, work site or government building; by members of the public entering a restaurant, though not once they are seated at a table, and; by people entering a residential or commercial building complex with more than two units.
The ordinance would not apply to children younger than 10. It also includes an exemption for people who should not wear a mask for health-related reasons, as advised by a medical professional.
Though current coronavirus infections in Plymouth are quite low, Selectboard Chair Bill Bolton said he was proposing the ordinance out of concern that the 4,000 Plymouth State University students who will be arriving at the end of summer could bring a wave of infections with them.
“We’re not trying to debate science. The point is, if you don’t want to wear one, you shouldn’t have to,” said Lheureux. Though he lives in a neighboring town, he said he would normally do much of his shopping in Plymouth, though he doesn’t patronize any businesses where he would be required to wear a mask.
Lheureux described himself as a “blue-collar guy” who performs ‘“general manual labor” for work. He said he is “very pro-liberty,” but that he has never organized or joined a protest before.
“All these other issues that have been going on in the public sphere, they haven’t affected me too terribly much. The masking issue is going to affect me in a real tangible way. I see it will go town by town, it’s in my next door town right now, next it will be in my town,” he said.
Lheureux said he believes in a business’s right to ask customers to wear a mask, and he supports individual rights to don a mask. He said he should have a similar right to decline to wear a mask.
“This is New Hampshire, ‘Live Free or Die.’ I have that tattooed on my body. As much as my liberty does not adversely affect somebody else, I feel we should be very careful to live by that motto. I don’t think there’s enough justification to begin broad-stroke limiting of people’s liberty,” Lheureux said. “I feel we’ve lost a lot of liberty in New Hampshire, I feel this is indicative of that.”
He said that he hoped to have a diversity of viewpoints brought to the Town Common on Sunday, and that the atmosphere would be more about conversation than conflict.
“Freedom and liberty based, trying to advocate for having a discussion, not just yell and scream at somebody. That doesn’t get anybody anywhere,” he said.